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Swarm robotics

Student makes mark with mind over matter

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Eighteen-year-old Luca had a brainwave. Using a robot developed by his father - innovator Francesco Mondada - the student will compete with Europe’s best young scientists with his experiment to control robots with his mind. (Carlo Pisani, swissinfo.ch)

Luca Mondada was looking for an idea that would combine his different areas of interest: an exceptional grasp of maths, his programming skills and a penchant for biology, and in particular neuroscience.

Mondada won a special prize at this year’s Swiss competition for young scientists for his experiment in swarm robotics (coordination of multirobot systems), and how they can be controlled by brainwaves.

He will represent Switzerland with his project at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS 2015), taking place in Milan from September 17 to 22.

The teenager was able to count on the support of his father, Francesco Mondada, adjunct professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne EPFL where he heads the Miniature Mobile Robots Group. Mondada senior lent his son his robot and his mind – he was the first test person, donning an electroencephalography (EEG) headset to try to control the robots.

Encephalography is any of various techniques used to record the electrical activity of the brain.