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  1. 1. 11/23/2009 1 On-going research projects @ ARTS and CRIM Labs ARTS (Advanced Robotics Technology and Systems) Lab Coordinator: Paolo Dario Artificial hands Hand prostheses Tactile sensors Neuro-robotics and bionics Neural interfaces Natural interfaces Sensory information processing Robotics for neuro- rehabilitation Assistive robotics Gerontechnologies Humanoid robotics Neurodevelopmental engineering Service robotics Biomimetic robotics Roboethics
  2. 2. 11/23/2009 2 Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna The model: The human hand Artificial hands @ ARTS Lab (1999-2008) RTR1 Hand (2000-01) SoftHand (2003) ROBOCASA (2004) Cyberhand (2005) ROBOTCUB (2006) EXPER II (2008) RTR2 (2002) RPP Hand (2007) Genie (2007) SmartHand (2008) Paloma (2003) Prof. Maria Chiara Carrozza Bio-inspired mechatronic hand prosthesis with embedded biomimetic sensors Neural electrodes Implantable system for neural stimulation and recording Telemetric link (transceiver) for both efferent and afferent signals Unit for decoding patient's intentions, for delivering the cognitive feedback to the patient and for prosthesis control Bionic Hand
  3. 3. 11/23/2009 3 Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna CyberHand: A neuro-controlled Hand 1. Low-Level Control 2. Feedback Delivery Allow natural control; Bidirectional; Large bandwidth; Efference Afference Neural Interface: Position, Touch, Pressure Non-Invasive Interface: Touch, Temperature, Pressure. Contact: Christian Cipriani, email: - 16 DoF - 4 Motors - 40 Sensors SmartHand Prototype (2009) 2009 Clinical evaluation @: -Lund University, Sweden; -Johns Hopkins University, USA; -Aalborg University, Denmark. [1] G. S. Dhillon and K. W. Horch, “Direct Neural Sensory Feedback and Control of a Prosthetic Arm,” IEEE TNSRE, vol. 13, no.4, pp. 468-472, Dec. 2005. [2] T. A. Kuiken, P. D. Marasco, B. A. Lock, R. N. Harden and J. P. A. Dewald, “Redirection of cutaneous sensation from the hand to the chest skin of human amputees with targeted reinnervation,” PNAS, vol. 104, no. 50, pp. 20061-20066, 2007.
  4. 4. 11/23/2009 4 Brain Computer Interface as a tool for neurological rehabilitation and prosthetics [1] Eric C. Leuthardt, M.D., Gerwin Schalk, M.S., Daniel Moran, Ph.D., Jeffrey G. Ojemann, M.D., “THE EMERGING WORLD OF MOTOR NEUROPROSTHETICS: A NEUROSURGICAL PERSPECTIVE”, Review, Neurosurgery 59:1-14, 2006 • implement strategies to control “smarthand” • implement methods to apply in stroke rehab Contact person: Maria Laura Blefari ( To analyze and understand the workingTo analyze and understand the working principles ofprinciples of the natural sense of touchthe natural sense of touch ToTo taketake inspirationinspiration fromfrom thisthis knowledgeknowledge toto designdesign novelnovel andand betterbetter tactiletactile artificialartificial sensorysensory systemssystems inin roboticsroboticsDESIGN&BUILD biomechatronic platforms for investigation of HUMAN TOUCH study of texture neural encoding (measurement of peripheral neural firing and brain responses by means of microneurography and EEG) and for for psychophysical experiments on roughness/texture perception In collaboration with Prof. Alan Wing University of Birmingham, UK Prof. Johan Wessberg, Goteborg University, SE MEMS based approach for artificial fingerpad for texture encoding Tissue engineered skin New approaches investigated for biomimetic fingertip Integration of tissue engineering approaches with MEMS/NEMS approach to artificial skin NEMS capacitive array MEMS piezoresistive array Contact person: Lucia Beccai ( In collaboration with Prof. Mike Adams, Dr. Liam Grover, Dr. Mike Ward University of Birmingham, UK Study of Human Touch and artificialStudy of Human Touch and artificial emulation with tactile systemsemulation with tactile systems discriminative touch
  5. 5. 11/23/2009 5 •L. Beccai et al ““Design and fabrication of a hybrid silicon three-axial force sensor for biomechanical applications,” Sensors and Actuators A, 120, 2, 2005, pp. 370-382. •C. M. Oddo et al ,Measurement Science and Technology, 18, 2007, pp. 623–631. The artificial approach to a bio-inspired fingerpad •L. Beccai et al ,IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, 13, 2, 2008, pp. 158-168 •L. Beccai et al “Sensing fingertip for bioinspired tactile encoding” 1st Nat. Bioengineering Cong., July 3-5 2008, Pisa (Italy) •.C. M.Oddo et al ,Sensors 2009, 9(5), pp. 3161-3183 Integration of arrays of MicroTAF MEMS with artificial materials for mimicking human fingerpad DESIGN&BUILD sensorized fingertips with miniature tactile sensors Contact person: Lucia Beccai ( SKILSENS – Artificial Sensing Skin SKILSENS is a soft and flexible artificial sensing skin able to detect pressure and shape of the object that is contacting. It is composed of silicone and its consistence is very similar to the human skin Dimension, spatial resolution, shape, sensitivity and color of the artificial skin can be changed according to the application. Patent pending 25 analog outputs 25 analog outputs Flexible / Rigid structure Black / Skin colour Proposed experimental research activities • Design, development and characterization of Skilsens-based human- machine interfaces for upper- and lower-limb exoskeletons for the neuro- rehabiliation, shoe insoles, and other biomedical applications. Contact persons: Alessandro Persichetti ( Fabrizio Vecchi (
  6. 6. 11/23/2009 6 L’ interazione uomo/macchina In molti settori della Robotica il contatto fisico fra Robot e Uomo è altamente probabile, se non necessario (riabilitazione) Requisito primario: Garantire un alto livello di sicurezza per l’ Uomo degradando il meno possibile le prestazioni del Robot Limitazione delle forze di interazione e problematiche di progettazione integrata meccanica/controllo del Robot Active compliance L’impedenza meccanica del Robot è regolata da algoritmi di controllo software (controllo di forza e di impedenza) Passive compliance L’impedenza meccanica del Robot è ottimizzata in fase di progettazione utilizzando materiali leggeri, rivestimenti morbidi, trasmissioni elastiche (più affidabile nel caso di eventi imprevisti istantanei come un impatto) Contact person: Stefano Roccella (, NEURARM, un modello robotico di arto superiore uno strumento potente per ricerca neuroscientifica NEURARM è un robot seriale 2R, con giunti attuati in modalità antagonista: masse, inerzie e dimensioni cinematiche simili al quelle dell’uomo Europeo standard attuazione antagonista come nei giunti umani, può quindi regolare la rigidezza dei propri giunti NEURARM è utilizzato per studiare: 1. Movimenti di “reaching point-to-point” 2. Interazione con una parete 3. Il task di “catching” Contact person: Nicola Vitiello
  7. 7. 11/23/2009 7 NEUROExos: un “esoscheletro” per la riabilitazione del gomito • Gusci anatomici per elevato comfort • meccanismo a 4-gdl per allinearsi all’asse di rotazione del gomito • attuazione compliante e bio-inspirata • Sistema di controllo basato sull’equilibrium point hypothesis, una teoria neuroscientifica • L’interazione persona-macchina è ottenuta attraverso la “pelle artificiale Skilsens” Argomenti di ricerca in corso • Modulo polso • Modulo spalla • Gruppo di attuazione e di trasmissione • Nuovi algoritmi e strategie di interazione uomo-macchina (EMG, etc.) Contact persons: Stefano Roccella (, Nicola Vitiello ( HANDEXOS PURPOSES 1. Exoskeleton device for post-stroke rehabilitation of the hand 2. Device for biomechanical measures of the hand Proposed thesis: • Characterization of the spasticity in post- stroke patients through HANDEXOS MAIN FEATURES • 5-fingers independent modules • fully mobility of the hand with a natural ROM • passive and adjustable mechanism on the intermediate phalanx to partially fit over hands of different sizes • low encumbrance both on the lateral side of the fingers and on lower side of the hand • easy wearability, light weight and comfort • extrinsic actuation system Fig. 1. HANDEXOS concept Fig. 2. HANDEXOS finger module, first prototype Fig. 3. HANDEXOS finger module with force sensors Contact person: Azzurra Chiri (
  8. 8. 11/23/2009 8 The ARTS humanoid robot Anthropomorphic head & retina-like vision system 7 d.o.f.s (neck & eyes) 7 proprioceptive sensors 2 cameras Biomechatronic hand 10 d.o.f.s 16 proprioceptive sensors 21 tactile sensors Anthropomorphic arm 8 d.o.f.s 16 proprioceptive sensors Total d.o.f.s: 25 Visual sensors: 2 Proprioceptive sensors: 39 Tactile sensors: 135 PALOMA EU IST-FET Project IST-2001-33073 P. Dario, M.C. Carrozza, E. Guglielmelli, C. Laschi, A. Menciassi, S. Micera, F. Vecchi, “Robotics as a “Future and Emerging Technology: biomimetics, cybernetics and neuro-robotics in European projects”, IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, Vol.12, No.2, June 2005, pp.29-43. Prof. Paolo Dario Prof. Cecilia Laschi Robocasa Humanoid Prof. Paolo Dario
  9. 9. 11/23/2009 9 RoboCasa in Italy: Robot-An Official opening: March 23, 2007 Prof. Paolo Dario G. Metta, G. Sandini, “Embodiment and complex systems. A commentary on Barbara Webb: Can robots make good models of biological behavior?”, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24(6) pp. 1068-1069, 2001. To understand how the brain of living systems transforms sensory input into motor and cognitive functions by implementing physical models of sensory-motor behaviours EU RobotCub Project Developing human-like cognitive capabilities through humanoid bodies RobotCub Project
  10. 10. 11/23/2009 10 Emotional robots study of the brain mechanisms for emotion recognition, by comparison of human and robot facial expression recognition behavioural experiments fMRI identification of most significant face elements design of the robotic emotional face, based on Ekman’s classification of facial expressions Compared to normal condition, human faces evoke significant activity in the Fusiform Face Area (FFA) (red area in Figure 1). In neuroimaging studies, this area responds always to the category “faces”. On the contrary, compared to normal condition, robotic faces evoke significant activity in the lingual fusiform/gyrus (blue areas in Figure 2). This area usually responds to the category “objects” Figure 1 Figure 2 E-Smiler Project (2006-2008), Cassa di Risparmio di Pisa University of Pisa, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, CNR Pisa Prof. Paolo Dario, Prof. Cecilia Laschi DustBot
  11. 11. 11/23/2009 11 1 RATTLE with force sensors 2 RATTLE with contact sensors 1 ELECTRONIC INTERFACE 1 BALL 1 SERIAL CABLE Neuro-developmental engineering Mechatronic sensorized toys for monitoring sensory- motor behaviour TACT - Tought in Action NEST Project #15636 Early diagnosis of autism and ASD by monitoring neuro- motor development Prof. Cecilia Laschi Floating Sensorised Networked Robots for Water Monitoring HydroNet (2008-2011) Objective: to design and develop a new technological platform for improving the monitoring of water systems, based on a netwrok of sensorized floating robots and buoys, integrated in an Ambient Intelligence infrastructure. EU Program: ENV.2007. Technologies for measuring and monitoring networks Prof. Paolo Dario
  12. 12. 11/23/2009 12 Biomimetic Robotics: observations of the living octopus Identification of octopus control strategies for goal- directed behavior Day/night light 80cm Water refrigerator Pumps for reef current Sensors for PH, salinity, O2, temperature, water hardness Moon phases light Cameras Pump for water circulation Filter for water depuration Novel Design Principles and Technologies for a New Generation of High Dexterity Soft-bodied Robots Inspired by the Morphology and Behaviour of the Octopus OCTOPUS (2008-2012) The OCTOPUS Project has the objective of designing and developing an 8- arm robot inspired to the muscular structure, neurophysiology and motor capabilities of the octopus (Octopus vulgaris). Project Duration: 48 months Project Cost: 9.745.000 € EC contribution: 7.600.000 € 7 partners from 5 countries Coordinator: SSSA
  13. 13. 11/23/2009 13 Livorno, ItalyLivorno, Italy Official Opening, January 14, 2009 CRIM- CENTRE OF RESEARCH IN MICROENGENEERING The CRIM Lab Coordinator: Paolo Dario BioBio--inspired and/or bioinspired and/or bio--applied miniaturized and microapplied miniaturized and micro--robots and systemsrobots and systems
  14. 14. 11/23/2009 14 Progetto Europeo LAMPETRA Life-like Artefacts for Motor-Postural Experiments and Development of new Control Technologies inspired by Rapid Animal locomotion LAMPETRA mira a sviluppare e usare piattaforme robotiche innovative bioispirate (al modello animale della lampreda ovvero della salamandra) con un duplice obiettivo: - condurre studi neuroscientifici sul controllo neurale della locomozione (“goal-directed locomotion”) nei vertebrati; - progettare nuove soluzioni ingegneristiche per la locomozione (e in generale l’attuazione) di sistemi, caratterizzate da elevata efficienza energetica, adattività e affidabilità. Pesce Lampreda Il robot Sistema di attuazione innovativo basato su magneti permanenti Controllo bioispirato, sensori sviluppati ad-hoc Progetto Europeo ANGELS ANGuilliform robot with ELectric Sense ANGELS mira a sviluppare un robot anguilliforme riconfigurabile: - Il robot si può dividere in robot più piccoli (moduli / agenti), anch’essi capaci di nuotare secondo la modalità anguilliforme; - Ciascun agente è in grado di percepire le condizioni ambientali (ostacoli, oggetti, altri moduli) e comunicare con gli altri agenti attraverso la modulazione di un campo elettrico (“electric sense”); - Il modello animale sono i pesci debolmente elettrici. Il robot amplifica le loro capacità sensoriali permettendo anche la riconfigurabilità del senso elettrico (agendo insieme, gli agenti, possono percepire oggetti grandi, non percepibili dal singolo agente). Gnathonemus petersii Campo elettrico attorno al pesce (tipo dipolo) Moduli connessi tramite magneti permanenti
  15. 15. 11/23/2009 15 Progetto Europeo Integ-Micro New production technologies of complex 3D Micro – devices through multi-process integration of ultra precision engineering techniques Integ-Micro mira a sviluppare nuove tecnologie per la produzione di micro componenti. In particolare, propone l’integrazione multi-processo (micro-taglio, elettroerosione, ultrasuoni e laser) su piattaforme riconfigurabili per la lavorazione ultra-precisa di serie di pezzi miniaturizzati. Questa strategia (lavorazione multitasking) permette il raggiungimento di un’elevata precisione di lavorazione, la riduzione dell’ingombro degli impianti di lavorazione, la riduzione dei tempi di allestimento e di messa in opera di linee di produzione innovative per prodotti strategici e, in generale, l’aumento della produttività. Testa di MU (microtaglio) con laser integrato KERN (partner) Pyramid Nano Versatile Endoscopic Capsule for gastrointestinal TumOr Recognition and therapy
  16. 16. 11/23/2009 16 Progettazione di strumentazione avanzata per chirurgia “interna” ed endoscopia… …Non solo al PC o in officina, ma anche sul campo! Tubingen, Germania, Settembre 2009. Un team misto dall’università (SSSA e università straniere), dalle industrie, e dal mondo della medicina, in un centro avanzato per la sperimentazione preclinica Miniaturized Vision Systems for endoluminal applications Endoluminal surgery requires the support of artificial vision system Performance as close as possible to direct vision are required Open research: Miniaturized wireless vision system for endoscopic pill applications 3D vision system for robotic surgery
  17. 17. 11/23/2009 17 ARAKNES project The ARAKNES (Array of Robots Augmenting the KiNematics of Endoluminal Surgery) Project has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement num. 224565 “…to integrate the advantages of traditional open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and robotics surgery into a deeply innovative system for bi-manual, tethered, visible scarless surgery, based on an array of smart microrobotic instrumentation.” Main intended interventions: Gastric and abdominal surgery Sensors - Technologies for solid state sensor fabrication; - Sensor for Hg based on resistivity variation of thin gold film (prototypes and transduction mechanism); - Sensor networks and related problems, - Sensor conditioning, Plug and play and smart sensor interfaces. - Micro-fabricated Hydrogen Sensor SSSA - CRIM
  18. 18. 11/23/2009 18 Smart materials - Artificial muscles/electro active polymers; - Plant-inspired actuators; - Nano-structured materials for actuators and sensors. SSSA - CRIM BIOMIMETICS ROBOTICS Robot inspired to plant’s roots for soil exploration The Plantoid Dr. Barbara Mazzolai
  19. 19. 11/23/2009 19 Courses General Courses Introduction to Biorobotics Paolo Dario 3 The main goal of Biorobotics is to analyze biological systems from a “biomechatronic” viewpoint, with the aim of understanding the scientific and engineering principles which govern and enable their extraordinary performances. Biomechatronics is a novel paradigm for machine design, which considers a mechatronic system together with its interactions with the external world and with the human operator. After an overview of the methodologies of Biorobotics, the course will address some biorobotic systems and case-studies including: 1) a biorobotic system inspired by a lamprey as a platform for neuroscientific investigations; 2) a biorobotic system for endoluminal surgery whose locomotion is inspired by insect locomotion; 3) a user-machine interface for friendly interaction with teleoperated artefacts. Human and Animal Models in Biorobotics Cecilia Laschi 3 The course introduces the rationale for bioinspiration and biomimetics in robotics and teaches the methods for designing robotic systems incorporating human and animal models. Specific cases are described, like the human models for active vision and tactile perception in robots and the animal models for soft-bodied robots Micro- and nano-robotics for biomedical applications Arianna Menciassi 3 The course objective is to provide students with the basic knowledge of micro- and nano-technologies for biomedical applications. In fact, micro- and nano-systems for biomedical applications represent a very effective alternative to traditional therapy and surgery techniques. The course will study the different technologies and solutions for medicine with a system approach, by investigating the micro- and nano-devices as mechatronic systems.
  20. 20. 11/23/2009 20 Specific Courses (1/3) Innovation from Nature: An introduction to Biomimetic Robotics Barbara Mazzolai 1 This course provides an introduction to the biological classification of living creatures and to their performance, as well as to biomechanics, ranging from single cells to entire plants and animals, aimed at designing and developing bioinspired robots and artificial sensors/actuators. The developed biorobotic systems allow to better understand the complex biological phenomenon and the animal/environment relationships. Neurointerfaces and Neuroprostheses Silvestro Micera 1 In the recent past, implantable neural interfaces have been used to gather important information about the functioning of the central and peripheral nervous systems. There are also increasing evidences that they can be used to develop different classes of neural prostheses to restore sensory-motor function in people who lost them for neurological disorders and disabilities and for traumatic events such as amputation. Therefore, neural implants could have significant potential to enhance our understanding of normal and pathological states of the brain, and at the same time significantly impact the design and use of neural prosthetic devices. The aim of this course is to provide more information about leading research activities carried out by groups around the world working to develop more effective neural prostheses. In particular, the following topics will be covered: (1) neural interfaces as enabling technologies; (2) statistical algorithms for the characterization of neural signals; (3) different examples of (cortical, peripheral and vestibular) neural prosthesis. Particular attention will be also devoted to the possible clinical applications of this kind of technology. Fundamentals of Continuum Mechanics Stefano Roccella 2 Starting from the definition of “continuum body”, the basic physics laws will be applied to mechanical systems in order to understand their behaviour under external applied loads. Solid and fluid bodies will be studied and fundamental criterions will be discussed in order to verify their strength under applied loads and constraints. The most important Computer Aided Engineering tools will be illustrated and some advanced case studies will be investigated. The course will consist of hands-on sessions and students will be able to solve advanced simulation problems. In particular contact boundary conditions, structural-dynamics simulations, fluidodynamics simulations and non linear materials simulations will be illustrated. The final test will consist of a simulation excercise with a final technical report. Specific Courses (2/3) Wireless control for biorobotic applications Pietro Valdastri 1 Thanks to energy efficient systems and miniaturization of electronics, wireless technology is nowadays enabling the development of unthetered robots. The main topic of this course is to describe how to implement robotic control on wireless and low-power platforms. First, the datasheet of a wireless microcontroller will be analyzed. Then, several examples of unthetered robots based on such core device will be designed. Finally, examples of programming code will be given. Hands-on sessions will be organized depending on the number of attendees. Biological Materials: structure and properties Virgilio Mattoli 1 The course introduces fundamental properties of most interesting classic natural (biological) materials, by defining the structure and the properties essentially from engineering point of view. Particular attention will be devoted to bio- inspired materials derived form traditional synthetic materials. Artificial tactile sensing in biorobotics Lucia Beccai 1 The aim of the course is to provide students with an insight on the development of artificial tactile sensors and to provide a critical analysis on how such a challenge has been addressed in biorobotics. The main areas that will be addressed are: functional principles of artificial tactile sensors, technologies and materials adopted for a tactile sensing and their evolution, case studies and applications of bio-inspired tactile sensors.
  21. 21. 11/23/2009 21 Specific Courses (3/3) Energy issues in Biorobotics and relevant examples Cesare Stefanini 1 In this course two main subjects are addressed: (1) what energy sources to be used in bioinspired and bio-applied robotic systems and (2) what means can be adopted to produce mechanical work in those systems. Familiarity with the above subjects represents a useful background for engineers involved in the design of high performance autonomous machines, as in the case of bioinspired robots and of wearable systems. The course is organized as follows:i. introduction on energy and actuation issues in Biorobotic systems, ii. energy sources, iii. actuators, iv. examples Project Work and Integrative Courses Projectual Work on BioRobotics Paolo Dario 3 Central Pattern Generators Sten Grilliner 1 Humanoid Robotics and Biomechanics Oussama Khatib 1
  22. 22. 11/23/2009 22 Thank You More info at, or or