Presentation by Prof. Raffaello D’Andrea (D-MAVT at ETHZ)

Dear ETH Alumnus
The Board of the ETH Alumni New England Chapter is pleased to invite you to a talk by ETH Professor Raffaello D'Andrea :
Thursday, August 4th 6.15 – 8.00 pm
Where: swissnex Boston, 420 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138
Presentation Overview:

The Robotic Chair, a performance piece that collapses into six separate pieces -- seat, back, and four legs -- and then proceeds to reassemble itself; the Balancing Cube, a structure that can balance on any one of its edges or corners using six rotating mechanisms on the cube's inner faces; the Distributed Flight Array, a flying platform consisting of multiple autonomous single propeller vehicles that are able to drive, dock with their peers, and fly in a coordinated fashion; the Blind Juggler, a robot that can keep multiple balls bouncing on a paddle without any sensory input; the Flying Machine Arena, a research-driven airspace where machines teach themselves -- and each other -- how to fly. What do they have in common, and more importantly, why were they conceived?
The human need to create is elemental. Whether this is an inevitable, evolutionary consequence of being the descendants of tool-making ancestors, or the cultural means by which we serve memes much bigger than our individual selves, we are compelled to execute the designs concocted by our imagination. In the context of technical innovation, however, there is a growing consensus that this drive to create has become increasingly co-opted by materialism; that consumerism has become the mother of invention, and faith in technology its father; that we justify this faith with the misguided belief that technology is THE solution to our unsustainable trajectory, and that we institutionalize it by indoctrinating our technically gifted young in formalized educational settings.
This talk explores a different model of technical innovation : One where innovation for its own sake is fostered and cultivated; one that encourages individuals to see innovation as a natural consequence of being creative and playful, rather than a means to utility; one that detaches technology from its current role, and frees us to explore what its new role could be.