NCCR Robotics lab gets € 2 million European grant for autonomous drones

December 10, 2019 //By Julien Happich
autonomous drones
Dr. Davide Scaramuzza is among the winners of the 2019 Consolidator Grants, awarded by the European Research Council for a project that will use innovative cameras to improve the performance of flying robots in rescue operations.

Scaramuzza, who heads the Robotics and Perception group at the University of Zurich and leads the Rescue Robotics Grand Challenge within NCCR Robotics, will receive 2 million Euros over 5 years for developing his project on “Agile Flight: Low-latency Perception and Action for Agile Vision-based Flight”.
The ERC Consolidator Grants are awarded to researchers of any nationality, working in EU member states or associated countries of the Horizon 2020 scheme, with 7 to 12 years of experience since completion of their PhD, a scientific track record showing great promise and an excellent research proposal. The goal is to help already successful researchers to consolidate their independence by growing their research team.

Scaramuzza’s project will tackle the problem of how to make drones fly autonomously and robustly. In particular, the goal is to make autonomous drones fly better than human pilots by using only onboard cameras and computation. Current commercial drones are completely blind: they navigate using GPS or a human pilot, which prevents their use for search-and-rescue operations in complex environments. “This is a scenario that is very close to me personally since I come from the center of Italy, which has been heavily affected by earthquakes over the past centuries” Scaramuzza explains.


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