Our lab is part of IDSIA (Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence), affiliated with both USI (Università della Svizzera Italiana) and SUPSI-DTI (Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana, Dipartimento di Tecnologie Innovative).

The lab is jointy led by Alessandro Giusti (Professor at IDSIA USI-SUPSI), and Luca M. Gambardella (Professor at USI); it is active in basic and applied research in autonomous mobile robotics, in close collaboration with other IDSIA researchers, namely the Imprecise Probability Group led by Prof. Marco Zaffalon and the deep learning group led by Prof. Jürgen Schmidhuber.

We are part of the National Centre of Competence in Research Robotics: a Swiss nationwide organization funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation pulling together top researchers from all over the country with the objective of developing new, human oriented robotic technology for improving our quality of life. In this context, we routinely collaborate with other Swiss robotics labs at ETH Zurich, EPFL and the University of Zurich.


We work with both flying and ground mobile robots; our current research focuses on the following themes.

Learning for perception and navigation

We apply state-of-the-art deep learning techniques for vision-based quadrotor control in human proximity (link) and for traversability estimation for ground robots on challenging terrain (link). We are also developing self-supervised techniques for autonomously learning to perceive long-range obstacles (link). We gained widespread media attention for developing deep nets that guide a quadrotor to follow a forest trail (with the Robotics and Perception Group at the University of Zurich). Previously, we released software for robustly perceiving people from a low-lying viewpoint

Pointing-based human-robot interaction

PhD student Boris Gromov is developing techniques based on pointing gestures sensed by wearable devices to identify, localize and control robots; a possible application is to precisely land quadrotors without any previuos training.

Robotics for education

Using robots in education is a very important interdisciplinary field of research, at the crossing between educational sciences and robotics. The lab is part of ‘Introducing People to Research in Robotics through an Extended Peer Community in Southern Switzerland’: a project awarded the Optimus Agora Prize by the Swiss National Science Foundation

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Collaboration and planning in multi-robot systems

We are exploring the use of artificial emotions for facilitating multi-robot coordination; in the same field, we previously developed human-friendly robot navigation algorithms and many other works


Mar 25 2021

Check out our new preprint paper on arXiv, “Fully Onboard AI-powered Human-Drone Pose Estimation on Ultra-low Power Autonomous Flying Nano-UAVs,” made in collaboration with ETH Zürich and the University of Bologna.

Feb 28 2021

Check out our recent open access paper, accepted to the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters with ICRA 2021 presentation: “State-Consistency Loss for Learning Spatial Perception Tasks from Partial Labels”. more info & videos

We are also presenting at ICRA 2021: Gabriele Abbate, Boris Gromov, Luca Gambardella, Alessandro Giusti: “Pointing at Moving Robots: Detecting Events from Wrist IMU Data” more info & videos

May 20 2020

Our highly-cited paper “Machine-Learning Method for Quality of Transmission Prediction of Unestablished Lightpaths” (with Cristina Rottondi and colleagues) published on the IEEE/OSA Journal of Optical Communications and Networking won the prestigious “IEEE Communications Society Charles Kao Award”.

Feb 10 2020

Check out our recent paper, accepted to the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters with ICRA 2020 presentation: “Path Planning With Local Motion Estimations”. code.

We are presenting one additional paper at ICRA 2020: Boris Gromov, Jerome Guzzi, Luca Gambardella, and Alessandro Giusti: “Intuitive 3D Control of a Quadrotor in User Proximity with Pointing Gestures” more info

Sep 12 2019

The survey article “The current state and future outlook of rescue robotics”, which the lab contributed to in the context of the NCCR Robotics, is now published in the Journal of Field Robotics.

Sep 4 2019

Neural Rope, an interactive, public art installation by Prof. Gambardella and artist Alex Dorici, is now live and on permanent display in the Lugano Station Underpass. The ML and software infrastructure was designed and implemented by our lab. The opening was broadcast live on national TV during the 2019 Swiss Digital Day.

Mar 22 2019

Congratulations to our student Simone Mellace, who won the Swissengineering Best Thesis Award for his work on Realtime Generation of Audible Textures Inspired by a Video Stream!

Mar 14 2019

Research on pointing gestures for proximity interaction by our PhD student Boris Gromov got the best demonstration award and an honorable mention for the best video award at HRI 2019! Congratulations!

Jan 26 2019

Check out our recent paper, accepted to the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters with ICRA 2019 presentation: Mirko Nava, Jérôme Guzzi, R. Omar Chavez-Garcia, Luca M. Gambardella and Alessandro Giusti: Learning Long-range Perception using Self-Supervision from Short-Range Sensors and Odometry more info

We have three other papers accepted at ICRA 2019:

  • Jérôme Guzzi, R. Omar Chavez-Garcia, Luca Maria Gambardella, and Alessandro Giusti: On the Impact of Uncertainty for Path Planning
  • Boris Gromov, Gabriele Abbate, Luca Gambardella, and Alessandro Giusti: Proximity Human-Robot Interaction Using Pointing Gestures and a Wrist-mounted IMU more info
  • Dario Mantegazza, Jérôme Guzzi, Luca Maria Gambardella, and Alessandro Giusti: Vision-based Control of a Quadrotor in User Proximity: Mediated vs End-to-End Learning Approaches more info

Dec 22 2018

Two videos and one demo accepted at HRI 2019!

Oct 27 2018

Two demos accepted at AAAI 2019:

  • Simone Mellace, Jerome Guzzi, Alessandro Giusti and Luca Maria Gambardella: Realtime Generation of Audible Textures Inspired by a Video Stream more info
  • Mirko Nava, Jérôme Guzzi, Ricardo Omar Chavez-Garcia, Luca Maria Gambardella and Alessandro Giusti: Learning to perceive long-range obstacles using self-supervision from short-range sensors more info

Oct 8-9 2018

Our intuitive gesture-based human-drone interaction techniques were demonstrated live during HUBWeek in Boston. Press coverage from the Boston Globe. Related papers and videos

Oct 1 2018

We received an Optimus Agora’ Award from the Swiss National Science Foundation for the project Introducing People to Research in Robotics through an Extended Peer Community in Southern Switzerland, a joint effort by the Educational Robotics group at SUPSI and the Laboratoire de Systèmes Robotiques at EPFL.

Jul 27 2018

Our research was featured in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, one of the most prestigious daily swiss newspapers.

Jul 18 2018

Congratulations to our MSc students Mirko Nava and Dario Mangegazza, who successfully defened their thesis.

Jun 29 2018

Our paper “Robot Identification and Localization with Pointing Gestures” was accepted at IROS 2018. Details

Jun 27 2018

Congratulations to Jerome Guzzi, who successfully defended his PhD thesis at USI.

Jus 21 2018

RSI, the italian-speaking swiss public broadcasting corporation, covered our drone research and filmed their journalists interacting with our robots.

Mar 24 2018

Our paper “A model of artificial emotions for behavior modulation and implicit coordination in multi-robot systems” was accepted at GECCO 2018 in the Swarm Intelligence Track (acceptance rate 22%). Details

Mar 15 2018

Congratulations to our BSc Students Stefano Toniolo and Denis Broggini. Stefano won the Swissengineering Talent Ticino Prize for his work on self-supervised learning for obstacle detection. Denis won the best presentation award for his work on ML for poinging gesture detection using wearable IMUs (also published as a student abstract at AAAI 2018).

Feb 5 2018

Our self-supervised learning techniques demonstrated to the public during the AAAI 2018 demo session (link)

Jan 26 2018

CNN journalists from Connect the World filmed our robots in action.

Jan 15 2018

Our paper on Learning Ground Traversability from Simulations accepted for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (arxiv)

Dec 23 2017

Our video “landing a drone with pointing gestures” was accepted at HRI 2018. Details

Dec 12 2017

With several other NCCR Robotics laboratories we have been collaborating on an integrative demo project targeted at rescue missions. The resulting video, which was recorded during the live demo held in Lausanne in Nov 2017, features some of our research about human-robot interaction and machine learning for traversability estimation.

Work with us

Contact us if you are interested in a position in our lab as a Research Engineer, PhD student, or Post-doc researcher.