Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

EPFL is recognized as one of the top-ranked institutions in the world for teaching, research and technological impact. International rankings regularly place EPFL among the world’s top schools in the fields of basic sciences, engineering and technology. EPFL is located in Lausanne, Switzerland. Its main campus brings together over 15,000 people – students, researchers and staff. Because of its dynamism and its rich and diverse student and research community, EPFL has grown into a world-class university with a corporate culture of its own, which combines curiosity, drive and simplicity. With over 120 nationalities on campus and over 60% of its professors from abroad, EPFL is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan university campuses. Female students and faculty benefit from a supportive policy and promotion at all levels. The proportion of female students has increased by 25% over the past five years.
A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on three pillars: education, research and innovation. EPFL is a member of international alliances in academia (Eurotech, RESCIF, SEFI, AUF, CESAER, CLUSTER, EUA) and beyond (WEF, ICRC, IRGC) and the leader of the Social Entrepreneurship Initiative featuring the Yunus Social Business Center. Some key numbers:

  • 4,170 scientific publications in 2018 alone
  • 185 ERC grants
  • Coordinator of FET Flagship Human Brain Project
  • 25 company R&D units, 75 incubated venture projects
  • 270 start-ups established since 2000 (23 startups created per year on average)
  • CHF 217 million in startup funding in 2018

Within EPFL, two leading laboratories participate in this proposal: the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems (EPFL-LIS) (, led by professor Dario Floreano, and the Soft Transducers Laboratory (EPFL-LMTS) (, led by Professor Herbert Shea.

Involvement in MERGING

EPFL has unique expertise in the design and manufacturing of soft grippers, and in machine learning methods applied to complex robotic handling scenarios. In particular, the LIS lab has expertise in soft robotics, wearable systems, learning and control strategies for controlling drones and other types of robots; the LMTS lab focusses on Elastomer-based actuators and sensors, haptic displays, MEMS and Printed Microsystems. The two EPFL labs have jointly developed a soft gripper able to a) be extremely gentle (eg cannot crack the shell of an egg), yet b) hold over 1 kg, ie 1000x its own weight, and c) adapt automatically to the shape of the object.

In the Merging project, EPFL will leverage this unique now-how in order to develop the soft gripper appendages with electroadhesive, sensing, and variable stiffness properties as well as adaptive signal processing of the soft finger sensors for safe grasping, contributing in particular to WP3 and WP5. Additionally, it will coordinate WP9 (communication and dissemination of results).