The Bioinspired Soft Robotics group is active since 2009 in the Center for MicroBioRobotics@SSSA (CMBR) of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia. The research aims at designing and developing new robotic solutions and advanced components taking inspiration from nature. The principal biological models of interest are plants and soft animals, with the aim to design and develop new bioinspired technologies and robotic solutions and to increase the knowledge of the biological system models. Applications for such technologies inspired by plants include soil exploration for contamination or mineral deposits, rescue tasks after disasters, but also include medical and surgical applications, like new flexible endoscopes, able to steer and grow in delicate human organs. Soft animals provide exceptional cues for designing new robots able to exploit the intrinsic properties of their structures (materials, morphology, etc.) and performing tasks in unstructured environments.
Our laboratories are furnished with:
- surface analysis tools (scanning probe microscope and stylus profilometer);
- microscopy instruments (digital optical microscope, inverted epifluorescence microscope, SEM, optical microscope, and confocal miscroscope);
- micromachines (focused ion beam, dualbeam FIB/SEM, inkjet materials printer, and laser cutter);
- biological tools (plate reader, germinator, electrophoresis, UV transilluminator, and cell culture cabinet);
- biomechanical characterization (nanoindenter).
Within the center, which is coordinated by Barbara Mazzolai, also Lucia Beccai works as indipendent PI developing the Artificial Touch in Soft Biorobotics research line.