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Margarita CHLI: Professor of Robotics and Computer Vision

" The idea of contributing, even modestly, to improving the quality of life and changing the way robotics is viewed "

Margarita CHLI is one of the few female leaders in robotics and computer vision. Her leitmotiv? “The idea of contributing, even modestly, to improving the quality of life and changing the outlook on robotics”. For her, robots are there to “support” humans and improve their daily lives, not to replace them. Discover the inspiring itinerary of this scientist, through her career, her projects, her distinctions received, and finally, her vision of women in the world of robotics.

Biography and background

After a childhood spent in Greece and Cyprus, Margarita Chli studied computer science and information engineering at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, UK from 2001 to 2005. 

In 2006, she continued her graduate studies at Imperial College London as a PhD student and research associate at the Robot Vision Group.  


After completing her PhD, she joined the Autonomous Systems Lab at ETH Zürich in 2010 to conduct research. She very quickly worked as a lecturer and assistant laboratory director. She teaches autonomous mobile robotics and then makes her courses free of charge to thousands of researchers worldwide.

From 2013 to 2015, she became an assistant professor and lecturer at the School of Computer Science at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. 

In 2015, she was promoted to assistant professor and director of the Vision for Robotics Lab (V4RL) at ETH Zürich, and an honorary member of the University of Edinburgh.

Conducted research and innovative projects

Margarita CHLI has participated with her team in several projects and research on a national (Swiss) and international scale. They have two objectives: 

  • Innovation in computer vision and robotics; 

  • Improve the ability of robots to manage large amounts of data efficiently so that they can see their environment effectively and react autonomously. 

Above all, Margarita CHLI has worked and still works to change the mentalities of robotics and deconstruct the thought patterns around espionage, surveillance, and the military domain. It has always sought to demonstrate how robots can act in areas of public utility.

To do this, it participates in several different projects: 

  • The SHERPA project aims to use intelligent and autonomous robotic systems to assist in mountain search and rescue;

  • The MY COPTER project: aims to design personal automated aerial systems to travel from work to home at low altitudes;

  • The SFLY project: the project aims to enable aerial micro vehicles to map unknown environments such as disaster areas; 

  • The AEROWORKS project: it works on the collaboration of aircraft that can be used in industrial inspection;

  • The NCCR Robotics project is set up to research technologies within the Swiss National Robotics Research Centre's framework to improve human quality of life. 

Honours and Awards Received

Margarita CHLI, en tant que brillante scientifique, a reçu de nombreux prix et distinctions mettant en exergue l’excellence de son travail : 

  • Between 2001 and 2005, she received a scholarship for outstanding performance from the Cyprus State Scholarship Foundation and a scholarship for outstanding qualifications from Trinity College;

  • In 2013, she received the Chancellor’s Tenure Scholarship from the School of Computer Science at the University of Edinburgh;

  • In 2015, the Swiss National Fund rewarded her with the SNSF Chair. She also receives an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Edinburgh; 

  • In 2016, she was invited to speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos and at the International Robotics and Automation Conference (ICRA) where she was named “Best Associate Writer”. That same year, she was on the Robohub list of “25 women in robotics you need to know”;

  • In 2017, she received the ZONTA Award, a recognition of women’s excellence in science;

  • In 2023, she won the ERC Consolidator Grant. It is one of Europe’s most prestigious research grants. These funds will be used to expand his team at the University of Cyprus for research on advanced robotic perception.

Women and science: the gaze of Margarita CHLI

Margarita CHLI has established herself as a woman in the world of robotics. Asked about the presence of women in the world of science, she does not hide her desire to see more women engage in this path and more precisely robotics. Indeed, she expresses her regret for not having seen a change in the presence of women in robotics between her years of study and today. While there were three girls out of a hundred students, she laments that her classes today still do not have more girls.



Photo credits:

Written by Océane D.


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