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NCCR Rescue Robotics Grand Challenge

Researchers Involved

Prof. Dr. Davide Scaramuzza

Antonio Loquercio

Davide Falanga

Zichao Zhang

Titus Cieslewski

research areas

Mobile Systems


2015 - 2020


Rescue operations can greatly benefit from robotics technology. After a natural disaster such as an earthquake or flood, it is often very dangerous for teams of rescue workers to go into affected areas to locate victims. The idea behind robots for rescue activities is to create robust robots that can travel into areas too dangerous for humans and rescue dogs. Robots can be used to assess the situation (e.g. the integrity of a building) and to locate people who may be trapped and to relay the location back to the rescue teams, so that all efforts can be concentrated on areas where victims are known to be.


  • Developing methods to allow autonomous navigation in challenging conditions.
  • Design robots that are easily transported.
  • Can function efficiently in all weather conditions.
  • Have long lasting power.
  • Can navigate themselves and have effective enough sensors to pick out victims.

Project Goals

The main goal is to develop a low latency state estimation pipeline using standard cameras in combination with event cameras, which offer increased robustness to motion blur, high dynamic range, and low latency, thus allowing operation closed to obstacles and in extremely challenging lighting conditions.


Zurich Eye

Zurich Eye was a Wyss Zurich project dedicated to enabling machines to see. Zurich Eye used cameras and inertial sensors to create a digital map of the environment around the robot. The team was acquired by Oculus (a Facebook company) in September 2016 and is today Oculus Zurich. The Zurich Eye team designed the head tracking algorithms in the newest Oculus product, called Oculus Quest.

Fotokite creates tethered UAS for Public Safety teams to gain situational awareness, helping them save lives and preserve property. Firefighters and first responder teams are using Fotokite systems, which integrate in to their fire trucks and public safety vehicles, to gain aerial thermal and visual video perspectives with the single push of a button. Fotokite is a 30 person ETH-Zurich spin-off company with offices in Zurich and Syracuse, NY. 1st Prize winner of the 2018 GENIUS NY competition, 2017 euRobotics Tech Transfer 1st Prize winner, and 2015 Qualcomm European QPrize winner.