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Zurich becoming a mecca for robots

Zurich is home to more and more young companies developing autonomous driving or flying machines. Even companies from Silicon Valley are moving their research to Zurich. ETH Zurich plays an important role in this.

Zurich is home to more and more companies developing autonomous machines.

A growing robotics hub is forming around the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, according to an article in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) newspaper.

Dozens of experts from the field of robotics and computer vision are graduating from ETH Zurich, and the university is now training as many master’s and doctoral students in robotics as leading universities in the Bay Area of California, Roland Siegwart, director of the Autonomous Systems Lab (ASL) at ETH Zurich, told the NZZ. The lab develops robots and drones that are able to autonomously operate in the world.

“We had already done the preparatory work before this became popular in industry – and so we were ready for the boom,” said Marc Pollefeys, an ETH professor for computer vision.

The talent pool in and around Zurich is also piquing the interest of large companies, many of which are now moving their research departments to Zurich in order to work with ETH Zurich.

One example is the American media group Disney. But according to the NZZ article, companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Samsung, Bosch and Oracle are also conducting research on related areas in Zurich. Google, for example, is developing in Zurich its technology platform called Tango, which enables devices to navigate without the need for GPS.

“Many companies are diversifying their research away from the Bay Area. I’m convinced that their interest in Zurich will continue over the long term,” said Pollefeys.

Thanks to ETH Zurich and the large companies, more and more start-ups are emerging. Daedalean, for example, which was founded by a former Google employee, is working on self-flying passenger aircraft. The majority of Daedalean employees are either ETH graduates or Ex-Googlers, according to the article.

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