As you know well, I have had never enough of robotics!
After have been at MIT in Boston, I wanted to discover where robotics gathered in Europe. I searched online and I discover the ETH in Zurich so – as I always do! – I sent emails to every Department of this Institute dealing with robotics until one of them answered me and gave me a date.
You cannot even imagine my happiness. I left towards Zurich where I was welcomed by the very kind and helpful Stefan, the person in charge of everything: he personally showed us the two ETH spin-offs dealing with robotics.
The spin-off is a project coming out the academic and study field to turn into start-up and company and be put on the market.
The first of this specific projects about robotics was ANYmotion, a four-legged robot which is able to move on any surface, walk, run, go through yards or uneven grounds and even climb ladders.
ANYmotion has its own artificial intelligence allowing it both to be controlled from far by a human using a remote control and to move alone taking decisions since it has also really many all sorts of sensors.
The other project, a bit more nerd and a bit more electronic, ranging through the flight field it’s the Wingtra one.
This team developed a drone which is able to take off like an helicopter and fly like a plane. Through a remote control it is able to go everywhere with possible developments in all sorts of fields, from agriculture to the monitoring of big surfaces as far as the flight over inaccessible areas.
The projects we had the chance to admire over the day were many others: the ETH is not only robotics, but many projects are linked to the medicine and biotechnologies field.
It was interesting to meet closer people who every day do all they can to improve people’s life, as well to learn the several passages of the long process and experimentation taking to the finished product.
We met two Italians who are working at a very interesting project, HYLOMORPH (at the spin-off level, too): they create a sort of skin serving to cover the electronic devices to put in the human body, as the pacemaker for example.
By this way, problems due to rejection are avoided: this skin is completely organic and made “grow” and cultivated starting from cells and so integrating perfectly with the human body.
The projects at the spin-off level were a lot unlike each other and all very interesting. Those concerning the human body – to be put on the market according to the laws in force – start from a simple research, pass through the experimentation on small animals, then on big animals and, once got by this way all the certifications – to guarantee the best level of security possible – they are tested on the human being.
A project that particularly struck me was the denovoSkin one. It’s dedicated for example to the seriously burned to whom only the 10-20% of the no damaged body remains. In this case it’s impossible to proceed with the skin’s removal to re-use it and it’s necessary to use other people’s skin with all the related problems.
This system aims to cultivate – starting from a small piece of healthy skin and through innovative systems besides by a very quick way – the lacking skin to use.
Then we ran into Hemotune who aims to help people under dialysis. Today this is done by very expensive big equipments or by small equipments that don’t guarantee a suitable blood’s purification. Practically – making it a lot easier – only the quick substances of blood are purified and not the slow ones.
What have they though to do? To inject inside blood some particular mini magnetic particles gathering the “dirt”, then these are grouped by a magnet in particular places inside the body and after that they are filtered and ejected all together by a much less invasive way for the body.
The fantastic thing about this place – as we had already noticed at MIT in Boston – is that people, with very high level professionals, are helpful to give you a part of their precious time to explain, tell about themselves, answer your questions…by a very simple and informal way. And they do that with us who are 16 and 18!
We went around all over the day among the buildings, spoken to people, had a look around into their offices, asked questions. When they found out I was fond of education, they made me run into projects also in this field.
So we had the chance to run into the Project Rosie. It aims to teach Maths and Science by a funny and interactive way. Practically children meet an alien arriving to the Earth and which knows nothing. They have to explain to it the rudiments of Maths and Logics and so learning them first.
It’s a fantastic project, isn’t it?
I would have still thousand things to tell you, but – as usual – time is pressing and this post is already too long!
We ended the day having a quick tour at the lake admiring the water fountain present in all pictures of Switzerland. You…trust me: like we did, chase your own passions, cultivate them, look online for the most important places, write and go and visit them.
It’s much easier that what you think!
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