EPFL EMBA participants connecting with EPFL labs for a Digital day

Our EPFL EMBA participants experienced a special Digital Day on campus, changing from their usual classroom learning. They spent the day visiting labs and learning about robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) with Prof. Auke Ijspeert, Prof. David Atienza and the teams of their respective labs.

The cursus of the EPFL EMBA students includes a digital transformation course, given by Dr. Andrea Dunbar. During the course, key concepts around digitalization are tackled and discussed: how can it change the business model and create opportunities for businesses? How can one avoid risks and optimize opportunities while implementing digital transformation? As part of the course, participants were offered a special Digital Day on campus on March 25th, 2022 to visit several labs and experience from close the Internet of Things and Robotics labs.

The participants listened to Prof. David Atienza, head of the Embedded Systems Lab giving an introduction on IoT and met with Dr. Miguel Peon and PhD student Laura Orlandic to experience a demonstration of several IoT wearables, with preventive healthcare features: T-shirts detecting a heart attack, smart watch monitoring physical and mental health in real time or special glasses detecting epileptic seizures. All these objects require IoT sensors, big data storage and deep learning in order to function and give conclusive results.

The participants also met with Prof. Auke Ijspeert, head of the Biorobotics Lab. He presented the different applications of robotics in various fields: in industrial robotics (electronics, automotive, metal and machinery, plastic and chemical production and food) and service robotics (for professional use – cleaning, delivery, warehouse – or private use such as vacuuming, hobbies, etc.).

Currently, most robots operate in a pre-programmed fashion, in environments that are geometrically simple and static, without humans. The next challenge will be to interact with humans in complex and unstructured terrains, which should represent business opportunities.

Prof. Ijspeert also addressed the ethical aspects that come with robotics, such as liabilities and legal responsibilities in case of accidents, usage of robotics in wars, the taxing of robots, the issues about privacy and environmental sustainability.

Under the guidance of Dr. Guillaume Bellegarda and MS student Luca Zunino, EPFL EMBA participants visited the lab and some of the robots inspired by biologically amphibious snakes, salamander or fish and quadruped robotics. In Prof. Ijspeert’s lab, robotics get inspired by biology (living animals) and robots are used as scientific tools to help biology.

The participants finished the day in the Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab Café where Dr. Alain Dufaux, operational director of the EPFL MetaMedia center presented the studio and where they were able to watch and listen to some of the most iconic concerts of the Montreux Jazz Festival over the last few decades.