Prof. Mirko Kovac is director of the Aerial Robotics Laboratory and full professor at Imperial College London. He is also heading the Laboratory of Sustainability Robotics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (Epfl) and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) in Zürich.

His research group focusses on the development of novel mobile robots for distributed sensing and autonomous manufacturing in complex natural environments. Prof. Kovac's particular specialisation is in robot design, hardware development and multi-modal sensor mobility. Before his appointment in London, he was post-doctoral researcher at Harvard University and he obtained his PhD at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). He received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) in 2005.
Since 2006, he has presented his work in more than 100 peer reviewed publications in leading conferences and journals, has won several best paper awards and has delivered over 100 keynote and invited lectures. He also regularly acts as advisor to government, investment funds and industry on robotics opportunities. 

Empa - Sustainability Robotics - Overview
Aerial Robotics Lab | Research groups | Imperial College London

Mirko Kovac | LinkedIn



Environmental sciences rely heavily on accurate, timely and complete data sets which are often collected manually at significant risks and costs. Robotics and mobile sensor networks can collect data more effectively and with higher spatial-temporal resolution compared to manual methods while benefiting from expanded operational envelopes and added data collection capabilities. In future, robotics and AI will be an indispensable tool for data collection in complex environments, enabling the digitalisation of forests, lakes, off-shore energy systems, cities and the polar environment. However, such future robot solutions will need to operate more flexibly, robustly and efficiently than they do today.

This talk will present how animal-inspired robot design methods can integrate adaptive morphologies, functional materials and energy-efficient locomotion principles to enable this new class of environmental robotics. The talk will also include application examples, such as flying robots that can place sensors in forests, aerial-aquatic drones for autonomous water sampling, drones for aerial construction and repair, and impact-resilient drones for safe operations in underground and tunnel systems.