"NCCR Robotics" officially approved!

At a media conference on 15 April 2010 in Berne, the Minister of Home Affairs, Didier Burkhalter, announced that Swiss National Science Foundation will support a number of stratigic initiatives, including the "NCCR Robotics". NCCR stands for "National Competence Center Research". Leading House is EPFL with Prof. Dario Floreano, Deputy Leader is the University of Zurich (Dept. of Informatics) with Prof. Rolf Pfeifer. This NCCR includes all major robotics laboratories in Switzerland. The funding is for four years and can be extended twice for a duration of up to twelve years. The "NCCR Robotics" will certainly boost robotics research -- and engineering and information technology in general -- in Switzerland.


A rapidly aging population requires technology that increases their autonomy and mobility well into old age—the demand for these kinds of robots will surely increase. This center will develop interactive “helper” robots, a new generation of intelligent machines that perform tasks for people in their everyday environments and safely co-exist with them. And while most of today’s robots are designed according to engineering concepts used for manufacturing plants, they are not optimal for building robots that have to perform in a home environment. To achieve the grand goal of developing helper robots, fundamental breakthroughs in technology, materials, and control methods will be required. An NCCR constitutes an ideal and timely platform for creating the desired synergies bearing the potential of a quantum leap in robotic technology and further strengthening Switzerland’s already strong international position and visibility in human-oriented robotics. The NCCR will capitalize on the Swiss tradition in micro-engineering, precise manufacturing, and human-friendly technology, creating tremendous opportunities for knowledge and technology transfer at a point in history when developing robots with a human orientation is in a situation strategically similar to that of the nascent personal-computer industry 30 years ago.