Some of us roboticists concentrate on the high-level behavior of our robot. Others like to create, concentrating on the mechanical design of a crawling, walking or flying robot. Finally, how does the robot perceive its environment, what sensors and algorithms are needed to interpret the world? The fact is, to make an autonomous robot you need to encapsulate all these capabilities, similar to what has been done in the 18 robots developed by Siegwart's lab.
Starting from concrete problems, such as planet exploration, autonomous driving or guided tours of exhibitions, he builds robots from the function up (functional robotics). Embedded with specific capabilities, these robots have been seen to leave the lab to become products in spin-offs, tour guides at the Swiss national exhibition and soon Mars explorers.
In this interview, Siegwart shares his know-how on autonomous systems (see his book on the subject) and the research which is being done on robot navigation/localization and mapping.