Nowadays industries are evolving with new processes and new forces. Digitalization, automation and robotics are changing the game. Therefore, on November 2nd at the SwissTech Convention Centre, the Swiss Robotics Industry Day took place. Industry professionals came together and see the labs of NCCR (Swiss National Center of Competence in Research), Robotics and meet the SMEs of the Swiss robotics ecosystem.

Mobile – Wearable – Educational Robotics

Opening the keynotes, Aude Billard, EPFL, introduced the “Control laws for safe human-robot collaboration”. She explained the challenges researchers have to face while working on two automated arms. Synchronizing and improving them to move faster and better. To a question, Aude Billard answered: “There is not only one highest industrial potential, potential is everywhere where we put a human in the loop. What is important is to know how robots avoid danger during collaboration”.

After that Remo Lütolf, CEO of ABB Switzerland on “Robots – Versatile collaborators in the digital industry era” was questioned about his vision in ten years’ time. Many companies don’t have automated robotics for automated manual work. He believes that automation will be used more and more to improve both productivity and quality. For larger companies or products, the process will be fully automated because of the flexibility and “easy to program” robots. On top of that, robots adapt easily, hence they will take over a bigger part. Furthermore, looking at countries like Japan or Germany, which are in an advanced phase of robotic implementation in their industries, robots are actually generating jobs.

Finally, but not the last presentation of the day, “Robotic and prosthetic technologies to reverse paralysis” was my personal highlight. Grégoire Courtine, EPFL, showed the research and results on how technology can help people suffering from spinal cord injury. With the use of what he calls “Spinal brain”, we can now activate muscles in order to stand, walk or run, when communication between the nerves and the human brain is broken. By using a wireless steering system, which communicates with a surgical Implant. And it works! We had the opportunity to watch a video of a patient walking with the help of this technology. It was surprising to hear the patient’s reaction, after not being stimulated for a short moment and incapable of walking. When the machine was switched on again, he said “I’m reconnected”.

Robotics exhibition

In the afternoon, time was given for demonstrations, networking and perusing the built-in exhibition floor. Startups were distributed in four specific fields.
– Mobile Robotics – Technology inspired from biological systems that make mobile robots perceptually aware and autonomous, safe and easy to use by humans, and capable of moving in very diverse environments.

– Wearable Robotics – like prostheses, exoskeletons and implants, which are customized to the needs of the wearer. Cutting edge soft technologies such as artificial skin, stretchable electronics and compliant actuators; and groundbreaking forms of artificial intelligence to make robots more human.
– Educational Robotics – Tools to help students and their teachers with any subject using paper as a basic component to be used with small, inexpensive robotic elements and to allow a progressive use of technology to perform complex robotic experiments.
– Symbiotic Drone – Technology giving a person the ability to easily control a drone by using their body movements. Also, giving them the feeling that they are flying, and experiencing exactly the same as the drone.

digitalswitzerland is proud to be an active part in such an event where Research and Industry can meet and where we see expectations on robotics in the future and how researchers handle it. Therefore, stay updated about what is happening. Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter!


Author Léonard Héritier, digitalswitzerland

Senior Communications & Project Management

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