A possible definition for robots is as follows: 'a machine that is capable of automatically executing a complex series of actions'. A mobile robot can move in its surroundings, while an autonomous robot acts independently. Significant results from university-conducted research on mobile robotics are relatively young and large in number. With advancing miniaturisation and falling costs, especially in the areas of sensor technology, actuator technology and computing power, major progress can also still be expected from the realm of university research. At the same time, start-ups that further develop these research results into marketable products are also being established. Switzerland is a local hotspot for these developments, especially the greater Zurich area, with the ETH at the heart of this activity.
The aim of the research field of Applied Robotics is to develop and expand research and development relationships in order to advance the cutting edge of scientific knowledge as part of project consortia and to support industry in the development of its products with innovation projects. The key to success here is formed by corresponding skills, especially in the following areas:
- The technical realisation of locomotion, for example movement concepts for mobile robots in the air (UAV), on the ground (UGV) and on or in water (USV and UUV)
- Sensor/actuator technology, especially through the use of synergies with the research fields of Image Processing and Optoelectronics (smart sensors)
- Software engineering and mobile computing
- System integration in order to, for example, integrate the results generated in the aforementioned fields into a company’s prototypes.