Invasion of the Biorobots

Bio-inspired robots from Switzerland run, crawl, and swim to the Bay Area Science Festival.

Event Details


San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco, California United States


October 23, 2015 - November 08, 2015


Registration and cost varies for each event

Some of the world’s coolest and most advanced bio-inspired robots—a salamander, an amphibious snake, and a fast-running cheetah—invade the 2015 Bay Area Science Festival. Meet these marvels (from Switzerland’s Biorob Lab at EPFL) at Discovery Days, Nerd Nite on Alcatraz, Cal Academy’s NightLife, and of course at swissnex San Francisco!

Track them down at these events, and by following @pleurobot and #basf15:

Discovery Day – East Bay


50 scheduled activities, including demonstrations, experiments, hands-on-activities, exhibits, lectures, and much much more.

Saturday, October 24, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
California State University East Bay Hayward Campus, Science Buildings


Science Hack Day


48-hour-all-night event where anyone excited about making weird, silly or serious things with science comes together to see what they can create.

Saturday and Sunday, October 24 & 25
GitHub HQ


Nerd Nite on Alcatraz


Nerd Nite is making it to the Rock! It will be a night of scientific talks, tours, activities, and a few surprises.

Tuesday, October 27, 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Alcatraz (yes, that one!)


Biorobots: Dissected


Learn the science and technology behind the bio-inspired robots from Swiss and US scientists.

Wednesday, October 28, 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm
swissnex San Francisco


Creatures of the NightLife


The creatures come out at night as NightLife joins forces with the Bay Area Science Festival for an evening of spine-tingling delight just before Halloween.

Thursday, October 29, 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
California Academy of Sciences


Discovery Day – AT&T Park

Experience over 150 hand-on exhibits and activities, meet local and international scientists and engineers, and have plenty of fun and educational entertainment. Find the biorobots in the Robot Zoo!

Saturday, November 7, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
AT&T Park and surroundings


Robot Bios


Amphibot is an aquatic robot inspired from snakes and elongate fishes such as lampreys. It is used as a test-bed for novel types of adaptive controllers and to investigate hypotheses of how locomotion-controlling neural networks are implemented in real animals. The latest generation, Amphibot III, can swim with speeds similar to a human.


Cheetah-Cub is a compliant quadruped robot with the size of a small house cat or young cheetah cub. The robot weights 2.4 lbs and is approximately 8.27in long. It can run up 3.2 miles/hour, almost seven of its body lengths per second, making it the world’s fastest running four-legged robot under 66 lbs.

Lola-OP snake robot

Lola-OP is a modular snake robot open platform, released as an open project by KM-RoBoTa s.a.s. Its modularity and easiness in construction make it an ideal tool to study serpentine locomotion.


Oncilla is a quadruped platform based on the design of the Cheetah-Cub robot with a modified actuator architecture, on-board power supply, and improved sensing capabilities (close-loop control).


Pleurobot is an amphibious robot inspired from the salamander. It was designed based on 3D X-ray recordings from Pleurodeles waltl walking on ground, walking underwater, and swimming. The robot can therefore very closely replicate the movements of P. waltl. It is used to investigate the way the nervous system coordinates movement in vertebrates. Pleurobot could also potentially be used in search and rescue applications.


Roombots is a modular robots designed to be the building blocks for furniture that moves, self-assembles, and self-reconfigures. The goal is to provide multi-functional modules that are merged with the furniture and that users and engineers could combine for multiple applications, such as assistive furniture for elderly, programmable conference rooms, and interactive art.


More info

The Biorobotics Laboratory is part of the Institute of Bioengineering in the School of Engineering at the EPFL, in Switzerland. The researchers work on the computational aspects of movement control, sensorimotor coordination, and learning in animals and in robots. They are interested in using robots and numerical simulation to study the neural mechanisms underlying movement control and learning in animals, and in return to take inspiration from animals to design new control methods for robotics as well as novel robots capable of agile locomotion in complex environments.



Photo: Myleen Hollero