Raffaello D'Andrea combines academics, business, and the arts to explore the capabilities of autonomous systems. As part of his research as professor of dynamic systems and control at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich), he and his collaborators enchant viewers with works like the self-destructing, self-assembling Robotic Chair, or the Balancing Cube that can perch itself on its corners.
D’Andrea and his team created the Flying Machine Arena to test the gravity-defying abilities of their athletic flying robots. Building on research in the Flying Machine Arena, ETH Zürich partnered with its spin-off company Verity Studios and with Cirque du Soleil to create “Sparked,” a short film showcasing the unexpected airborne dexterity of quadcopters. D’Andrea is the co-founder of Kiva Systems, a robotics company that develops intelligent automated warehouse systems and that was acquired by Amazon in 2012.