Student Projects

How to apply

To apply, please send your CV, your Ms and Bs transcripts by email to all the contacts indicated below the project description. Since Prof. Davide Scaramuzza is affiliated with ETH, there is no organizational overhead for ETH students. Custom projects are occasionally available. If you would like to do a project with us but could not find an advertized project that suits you, please contact Prof. Davide Scaramuzza directly to ask for a tailored project (sdavide at

Upon successful completion of a project in our lab, students may also have the opportunity to get an internship at one of our numerous industrial and academic partners worldwide (e.g., NASA/JPL, University of Pennsylvania, UCLA, MIT, Stanford, ...).

Projects related to an international robotics competition - Available

RPG is participating in an international robotics challenge (,, and we have several work packages available as student projects, involving visual perception, MAV control and multi-robot collaboration. One sub-challenge is landing a MAV on a moving platform and another is one where multiple objects need to be retrieved from a large area using a collaborating group of MAVs.

Thesis Type: Semester Project / Master Thesis

Contact: Michael Gassner (gassner at

Learning Flips with Quadrotors - Available

We developed quadrotors that are capable of flying autonomously using a single camera and an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). With this project, we want our quadrotors to be able to perform flips and re-stabilize with their on-board state estimation. This project will consist of the following work packages: setting up a simulation environment for our quadrotors; have the quadrotors learn how to perform flips; integrate everything into our framework.

Thesis Type: Semester Thesis / Master Thesis

Contact: Matthias Fässler (faessler at, Davide Falanga (falanga at

Aerial monocular vision-based ball catching - Available

The goal of this project is to enable vision-based drones to catch a ball thrown by hand without relying on any external sensor or motion capture system. This project will consist of the following work packages, among which the student can choose according to his interests and skills.

1) Development of a real-time trajectory planning algorithm for micro aerial vehicles. The algorithm must be fast enough to be implemented and run onboard and must keep into account both dynamical and perception-related constraints.

2) Monocular vision-based fast ball detection. The first part will consist in studying the literature for fast ball detection, then the goal will be to implement a robust ball detection and tracking algorithm that can run onboard.

3) Ball trajectory estimation with uncertainty propagation. The goal is to predict the motion of the ball based on physical considerations and measurements from the onboard camera.

For the first package, knwoledge in control theory and optimization are required; the second one requires knowledge in computer vision; the third, finally, is suitable to students with knwoledge in recursive estimation.

Thesis Type: Semester Project or Master Thesis, according to the package(s) chosen

Contact: Davide Falanga (falanga at, Henri Rebecq (rebecq at, Zichao Zhang (zzhang at

Optimal Sensor Placement - Available

The goal of this project is to investigate how sensor type, position, and orientation affect the performance of a visually-guided agile MAV. Part of the project will be designing a photorealistic simulation environment in which to test different camera arrangements on a flying platform, so experience with blender, Unreal Engine, etc. will be a bonus. The project will consist of evaluating these sensor setups in offline simulations of several tasks (e.g. fast outdoor flight, flying through a forest or through a window), and time permitting, performing further evaluations in a closed-loop physics simulation. Inspiration for candidate arrangements should come from examples in both the robotics literature and nature.

Thesis Type: Semester Thesis / Master Thesis

Contact: Zichao Zhang (zzhang at, Henri Rebecq (rebecq at

Physical Threshold Detection - Available

In human environments, windows and doors represent thresholds between spaces. For a robot exploring an unknown environment, these portals offer new frontiers, but they can be challenging for a robot to safely traverse. This project deals with designing a system to robustly detect windows/doors/thresholds that a quadrotor could fly through, using cameras and range sensors. This system would need to detect these portals via appearance and geometry, and evaluate the feasibility of traversal with a very low false-positive rate using machine learning techniques and geometric constraints. The ultimate goal is to deploy this system on a quadrotor for a live demo.

Thesis Type: Semester Thesis / Master Thesis

Contact: Jeff Delmerico (jeffdelmerico at, Michael Gassner (gassner at

Active Visual Saliency Mapping - Available

This project is motivated by a search and rescue scenario wherein a flying robot is searching for a "victim" in an outdoor environment. The goal is to identify and investigate areas of the environment that look different than their surroundings. The robot will use computer vision and machine learning techniques to build a visual saliency map, and will be controlled by a path planner that interactively evaluates this map and chooses the most visually distinct regions to investigate more closely.

Thesis Type: Semester Thesis / Master Thesis

Contact: Jeff Delmerico (jeffdelmerico at, Christian Forster (forster at

Discovering Safe Regions for Reconstruction - Available

This project builds on a previous student work that discovered safe regions for vision-based flight (i.e. over textured areas) and prevented the quadrotor from moving into the unsafe areas. The goal of this project is to develop methods for detecting potential vertical obstacles (e.g. walls) in the peripheral view of the quadrotor using computer vision, geometry, and machine learning. With detected potential obstacles, the quadrotor can then reason about the structure of the environment to limit the flight of the robot to safe regions that have both good texture and are free of obstacles.

Thesis Type: Semester Thesis / Master Thesis

Contact: Jeff Delmerico (jeffdelmerico at

Air-ground coordination for landing on a movable platform - Not available

The goal of this project is to investigate coordination methods to allow a ground robot (Kuka YouBot) and a flying robot (quadrotor) to jointly plan a landing maneuver on a movable platform managed by the ground robot. Such a maneuver can be used, for example, in the event that the flying robot should run out of battery during its flight or more in general for any kind of emergency landing. To achieve this coordinated motion, an optimal trajectory must be planned taking into account both the time required to land, the limited energy available to the quadrotor and the dynamical constraints of both robots. Other problems to be solved in this project are related to reciprocal localization, online trajectory re-planning and motion synchronization.

Thesis Type: Semester Project / Master Thesis

Contact: Davide Falanga (falanga at, Junje Zhang (jzhang at

Impedance control for physical interaction with quadrotors - Not available

Impedance control is a technique widely used in robotic manipulation which imposes a desired dynamic behavior to the interaction between the robot and the environment, fixing a (non)linear function between forces on one side, position, velocity and acceleration on the other. The goal of this project is to develop an impedance control for vision-based quadrotors in order to let a user physically interact with the vehicle. Once the impedance control algorithm has been implemented and is running, the vehicle behaves like a mechanical impedance, namely a mass-spring-damper system. To achieve such a behavior, an external forces estimator must be derived and implemented. Impedance control can then be used to manually guide the vehicle though a trajectory or towards a desired pose in the space. Possible applications are position locking to inspect an object with a front-looking camera mounted on the vehicle, object manipulation or teach by showing.

Thesis Type: Semester Project / Master Thesis

Contact: Davide Falanga (falanga at, Michael Gassner (gassner at