Last update: Oct 15, 2013

Architecture and Sustainable Building Technologies
Department of Architecture
ETH Zürich
Schafmattstr 32
HPZ G 25.2
8093 Zürich, Switzerland

Design and Engineering Consulting

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Research Projects

[...] it would be interesting in surgery if you could swallow the surgeon. You put the mechanical surgeon inside the blood vessel and it goes into the heart and looks around.

[...] How do we make such a tiny mechanism? I leave that to you.

- Richard Feynman, There's plenty of room at the bottom, 1959.

Assembling Reconfigurable Endoluminal Surgical (ARES) System

We are developing a modular robotic system that can be swallowed and will assemble inside the G.I. Tract for therapeutic and diagnostic procedures. ETH Zürich is one of four European universities participating in this project, led by Paolo Dario at Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna.

My research involves the investigation of the self-assembly of the ARES robot inside the stomach. Using a specific magnet configuration on the connection face, assembly success rates of up to 90% are possible.

Intraocular Microrobots and Control Using Field Gradients

This project aims at developing magnetic microrobotics for ophtalmic surgery.

I am involved in developing the magnetic model for assembled-MEMS microrobots. The model is validated through FEM simulations and experiments, and captures the characteristics of complex 3-D structures. It allows us, for the first time, to consider full 6-DOF control of untethered devices.

The Swiss French Television (TSR, Nouvo, Dec.5, 2008) reported on both projects:

A German (SF1, Einstein, Feb.5, 2009) version is also available.

Non-Smooth Dynamics Modeling of Wireless Resonant Magnetic Microactuators

In this project, we consider world's first really untethered microrobots that are driven by oscillating magnetic fields. The oscillations are converted into mechanical energy and rectified using a spring-mass impact system with friction, leading to stick-slip motion.

I model this system using non-smooth multi-body dynamics and can explain several unintuitive behaviors that are experimentally not explicable because of the nature of the devices. The microrobots are fabricated and characterized experimentally by Dominic Frutiger.



Journals and Magazines

D. Rossi, Z. Nagy, and Arno Schlueter, Adaptive Distributed Robotics for Environmental Performance, Occupant Comfort and Architectural Expression, Int'l. Journal of Architectural Computing, vol.10, No.3, pp. 341-360, September 2012
doi: 10.1260/1478-0771.10.3.341

S. Miyashita, K. Nakajima, Z. Nagy, and R. Pfeiffer, Self-organized Translational Wheeling Motion in Stochastic Self-assembling Modules, Artificial Life Early Access (2013), pp. 1-17
doi: 10.1162/ARTL_a_00082

Z. Nagy, R.I. Leine, D.R. Frutiger, C.Glocker, and B. J. Nelson, Modeling the Motion of Microrobots on Surfaces Using Non-Smooth Multibody Dynamics, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, Vol.28, No.5, pp.1058-1068, October 2012
doi: 10.1109/TRO.2012.2199010

Z. Nagy and B. J. Nelson, Lagrangian Modeling of the Magnetization and the Magnetic Torque on Assembled Soft-Magnetic MEMS Devices for Fast Computation and Analysis, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, Vol.28, No.4, pp.787-797, August 2012
doi: 10.1109/TRO.2012.2193230

S. Miyashita, Z. Nagy, B. J. Nelson, and R. Pfeifer, The Influence of Shape on Parallel Self-Assembly, Entropy 2009, 11(4), pp. 643-666
doi: 10.3390/e11040643

Z. Nagy, K. Harada, M. Fluckiger, E. Susilo, I. K. Kaliakatsos, A. Menciassi, E. Hawkes, J. J. Abbott, P. Dario, and B. J. Nelson, Assembling Reconfigurable Endoluminal Surgical Systems: Opportunities and Challenges, International Journal of Biomechatronics and Biomedical Robotics, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp 3-16, 2009
doi: 10.1504/IJBBR.2009.030054

M. Probst, M. Flueckiger, S. Pane, O. Ergeneman, Z. Nagy and B.J. Nelson, Manufacturing of a Hybrid Acoustic Transmitter Using an Advanced Microassembly System, IEEE. Trans. Indust. Electronics, Vol.56, Issue 7, pp. 2657-2666
doi: 10.1109/TIE.2009.2021173

M. Flueckiger, Z. Nagy, M. Probst, O. Ergeneman, S. Pane, and B.J. Nelson, A Microfabricated and Microassembled Wireless Resonator, Sensors & Actuators A: Physical, in Press
doi: 10.1016/j.sna.2009.07.012

F. Beyeler, S. Muntwyler, Z. Nagy, C. Graetzel, M. Moser and B.J. Nelson, Design and calibration of a MEMS sensor for measuring the force and torque acting on a magnetic microrobot, J. Micromech. Microeng. (18) 025004 (7pp), 2008
doi: 10.1088/0960-1317/18/2/025004

J. J. Abbott, Z. Nagy, F. Beyeler, B. J. Nelson, Robotics in the Small, Part I: Microrobotics, IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, Vol. 14, No. 2, 2007, pp. 92-103
doi: 10.1109/MRA.2007.380641

International Refereed Conferences and Workshops

D. Rossi, Z. Nagy, and Arno Schlueter, Simulation Framework for Design of Adaptive Solar Facade Systems, CISBAT, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2013

D. Rossi, Z. Nagy, and Arno Schlueter, Soft Pneumatics for Sustainable Architecture, Int'l. Workshop on Soft Robotics and Morphological Computation, Ascona, Switzerland, 2013

D. Rossi, Z. Nagy, and Arno Schlueter, Adaptive Distributed Architectural Systems, ACADIA - Synthetic Digital Ecologies, San Francisco, Ca, USA, October 2012

Z. Nagy, D. Rossi and Arno Schlueter, Sustainable architecture and human comfort through adaptive distributed systems, IEEE Pervasive Computing and Communications Workshop (PERCOM), March, 2012, Lugano, Switzerland
doi: 10.1109/PerComW.2012.6197520

Z. Nagy and B. J. Nelson, On the Feasibility of Magnetic Self-Assembly for Swallowable Modular Robots, Workshop on MesoScale Robotics for Medical Interventions at the IEEE Int. Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010, Anchorage, AK, USA

Z. Nagy, D. Frutiger, R.I. Leine, C. Glocker, and B. J. Nelson, Modeling and analysis of wireless resonant magnetic microactuators, in Proc. IEEE Int. Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010, Anchorage, AK, USA
doi: 10.1109/ROBOT.2010.5509260

Z. Nagy, S. Miyashita, S. Muntwyler, A.K. Cherukuri, J.J. Abbott, R. Pfeiffer, and B.J. Nelson, Morphology Detection for Magnetically Self-Assembled Modular Robots, in Proc. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2009, St. Louis, MO, USA
doi: 10.1109/IROS.2009.5354764

Z. Nagy, M. Flueckiger, O. Ergeneman, S. Pane, M. Probst and B.J. Nelson, A Wireless Acoustic Emitter for Passive Localization in Liquids, in Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2009, Kobe, Japan
doi: 10.1109/ROBOT.2009.5152292

Z. Nagy, R. Oung, J. J. Abbott, and B. J. Nelson, Experimental Investigation of Magnetic Self-Assembly for Swallowable Modular Robots, in Proc. IEEE/RJS International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2008, Nice, France
doi: 10.1109/IROS.2008.4650662

Z. Nagy, O. Ergeneman, J. J. Abbott, M. Hutter, A. M. Hirt, and B. J. Nelson, Modeling Assembled-MEMS Microrobots for Wireless Magnetic Control, in Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2008, Pasadena, CA, USA
doi: 10.1109/ROBOT.2008.4543315

F. Beyeler, S. Muntwyler, Z. Nagy, M. Moser, and B.J. Nelson, A Multi-Axis MEMS Force-Torque Sensor for Measuring the Load on a Microrobot Actuated by Magnetic Fields, in Proc. IEEE/RJS International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2007, St. Diego, CA, USA
doi: 10.1109/IROS.2007.4399004

Z. Nagy, J. J. Abbott, and B. J. Nelson, The Magnetic Self-Aligning Hermaphroditic Connector: A Scalable Approach for Modular Microrobots, in Proc. IEEE/ASME Int. Conf. Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics, 2007, Zurich, Switzerland
doi: 10.1109/AIM.2007.4412519


Z. Nagy, A. Sadowski, Systems and Methods for Data Management, U.S. Provisional Patent Application No.: 61/286,835

Under Review

Z. Nagy, et. al., Balancing Envelope and Heating System Parameters for Zero Emissions Retrofit using Building Sensor Data,

Non Refereed Publications

Z. Nagy, F. Beyeler, Die Mikrowelt entdecken: Die Arbeit mit Mikroobjekten, Bulletin SEV/VSE, November 2009

Media Coverage

Print and Internet

TV and Radio

Awards and Distinctions

  • Erasmus Scholarship
  • IEEE RAS Travel Support (ICRA 2009)
  • Venture Leaders 2009
  • ETH Travel Stipend for pursuing research in the US
  • Swiss Technology Award 2009 for FemtoTools

Professional Activities

Student member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

Technical Reviews

  • IEEE Transactions on Robotics
  • IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics
  • Robotica
  • Tribology Letters
  • IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)
  • IEEE/RJS International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS)
  • IEEE International Conference on Biorobotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob)
  • IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (CASE)

Other Activities

  • Session Chair, IEEE/RJS International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS)



Semester Course Duties Students
Fall'06, '07, '08 Introduction to Robotics and Mechatronics Supervision of weekly laboratory sessions and exam grading 60-100
Fall'07, '08, '09 Theory of Robotics and Mechatronics Exam grading 40-90
Spring'08, Fall'09, '10 Microrobotics Prepared and gave lectures and assignments on magnetism 20-40

Student Project Supervision

  • Bachelor/Semester Theses: Sandro Hauri'10, Ashish Cherukuri'09, Ciril Baselgia'09, Marco Hutter'07
  • Master/Dimploma Theses: Daniela Schuler'10, Raymond Oung'08
  • Studies on Mechatronics: Heinrich Meier'08, Ivo Leibacher'07, Gregory Hitz'07, Raymond Oung'07
  • Internships: Sherief Emam'10, Elliot Hawkes'08, Christina Haupt'08


MIT Cambridge, USA 10/2009-11/2009 Visiting Graduate Student with Prof. Daniela Rus (CSAIL)
ETH Zürich since 2006 Ph. D. Student - Advisor: Prof. Brad Nelson
ETH Zürich 2001-2006 Dipl.-Ing (M.S.) Mechanical Engineering - Advisors: Dr. Jake Abbott and Prof. Brad Nelson
Sensirion AG 07/2005-10/2005 Internship (Micro Flow Sensors)
DTU Copenhagen 02/2005-06/2005 Academic Exchange Semester (ERASMUS Scholarship)


Mathematical Modeling MATLAB/Simulink, Mathematica
Numerical Analysis (FEM) ANSYS, COMSOL Multiphysics (FEMLAB), Maxwell-3D
Computer Aided Design (CAD) Unigraphics NX, SolidWorks,
Programming and OS C/C++, PHP/MySQL, Windows, Linux
Documentation and Design MS Office, Latex, Adobe Illustrator & InDesign


  • Co-Founder of FemtoTools GmbH: FemtoTools designs and fabricates high quality measurement and handling instruments for research and development in the micro and nanodomain.
  • Member of the board of SiROP ETH: SiROP provides a multifunctional web platform with standardised procedures to post, search, and manage projects while using a common browser.
  • Co-Founder of curvit: curvit™ allows students to develop an online portfolio and export any combination of that information into a hard copy resume formatted to the standard of any institution.
Wise Words
The only real valuable thing is intuition.

- Albert Einstein
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