Marco Tognon, PhD

Post-doctoral researcher

Autonomous Systems Lab (ASL)

Leonhardstrasse 21
8092 Zürich

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Currently, I am a post-doctoral researcher at ETH-Zurich, working in the Autonomous Systems Lab (ASL), under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Roland Siegwart

From August 2018 to April 2020, I worked as post-doctoral researcher at Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture of Systems (LAAS), in particular working in the RIS team, together with Dr. Antonio Franchi and Dr. Juan Cortés. During this period have been the technical leader of the LAAS-team participating to the robotic competition MBZIRC2020.

July 2018, I obtained the PhD in robotics from the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Toulouse (INSA). I carried out my PhD thesis on aerial physical interaction at Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture of Systems (LAAS), under the supervision of Dr. Antonio Franchi  and Dr. Juan Cortés. I have been a visiting graduate student at the Robotics, Vision and Control Group (GRVC) in the University of Seville, under the supervision of Dr. Anibal Ollero.

I got the master degree in Automation Engineering at the University of Padua under the supervision of Prof. Ruggero Carli, after an internship at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in the Autonomous Robotics and Human-Machine Systems group under the supervision of  Dr. Antonio Franchi

Since 2019 I serve as associate editor for IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS).
Since 2020 I serve as associate editor for IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)

Research Topics

Keywords: aerial robotics, aerial physical interaction, tethered aerial vehicles, fully-actuated aerial vehicles, aerial manipulators, cooperative aerial manipulation, hybrid position-force control, kinodynamic motion planning.

My research is centered on the study of autonomous systems and in particular on robotics. The paramount objective is to make robots that can perform physical work, namely to act and interact with the environment by exchanging forces in order to perform complex tasks. However, this involves many challenges affecting all the main axes of robotics: modeling, to have an accurate representation of the robot, of the environment, and of their interaction (e.g., exchange of forces); the interaction forces; planning, to define desired motions and interaction forces to perform a given task; sensing, to obtain a proper estimation of the state of the robot, of the environment, and of the interaction between the two; and finally control, to process the force/motion feedback in order to act toward the desired result, preserving the stability and safety of the system.

Regarding my principal research activity, it is focused on autonomous aerial robots interacting with the environment. In particular in the control and motion planning of such systems. Nowadays Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are normally used as simple autonomously moving sensors embedded with contact-less-based sensors like cameras. In order to go beyond this limited application and to use aerial vehicles as proper robots capable to physically interact with the environment, new control methods are needed to preserve the stability of the system and to obtain the desired motion. Moreover, the latter has to be carefully designed using motion planning techniques to plan a motion that avoids possible obstacles and that is feasible for the system dynamics. In the context of physical interaction, classical motion planning methods relying only on the kinematics-based approaches, are inadequate to achieve the desired task. This is why new kinodynamic motion planning methods have to be designed in order to cope with the dynamics of the systems and the forces exchanged with the environment during manipulations tasks.    

In the field of aerial manipulation, considering aerial vehicles endowed with robotic arm(s) I'm working on the design and implementation of new controllers and motion planning methods. In particular, they must exploit the dynamics of the full system in order to interact with the environment and to perform agile maneuvers.      

My research focuses also on multi-robot solutions for aerial physical interaction. The complexity of some physical interaction tasks often requires the use of more than one robot. On the other hand, the coordination of a multi-robot system implies additional challenges involving modeling, control, stability analysis, motion planning, perception, etc.