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Vadim Tikhanoff


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IIT Central Research Labs Genova


+39 010 2898 243
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Dr. Vadim Tikhanoff currently holds a Scientist/Technologist position at the IIT working in the iCub Facility. He possesses a solid background in human-machine interaction and extensive experience in real time computer vision, machine learning technologies and developing robust state-of-the-art software solutions and architectures. He graduated in Computer Science at the University of Essex, UK (2004), presenting a study based on Artificial Intelligence and in particular Multi-Agent Systems. In 2005 he accomplished his MSc in Interactive Intelligent Systems and attained his PhD (2009) on the Development of Cognitive Capabilities in Humanoid Robots, at the University of Plymouth, UK, within the Adaptive Behaviour and Cognition Research Lab. He was postdoctoral researcher at the IIT in the Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences laboratory and then the iCub Facility. Vadim has authored numerous papers published in renown international conferences as well as international journals and book chapters, in areas ranging across neural networks, language acquisition, cognitive systems and image processing. He has participated in several EU-funded projects including iTALK, eMorph, Xperience, POETICON and POETICON++. He served as Program Chair and program committee of various conferences and was guest Associate Editor of the Humanoid Robotics code topic of the Frontiers in Robotics and AI.


In general terms, my background falls practically at the intersection of the fields of Robotic Systems, in particular humanoid robots, and Artificial Intelligence. My main research focuses on the development of innovative techniques and approaches for the design of skills in a robot, in order to interact with the surrounding physical world and manipulate objects in an adaptive, productive and efficient manner. In particular develop a cognitive architecture which would allow a humanoid robot to develop improved exploratory visual competencies that are associated with refined motor controls and conversational interaction. More specifically, my research has been focusing on fully instantiated systems integrating perception and learning, capable of interacting and communicating in the virtual and the real world and perform goal directed tasks. Such an architecture will allow the robot to effectively work in unstructured environments, cooperate and assist humans in their daily chores.
In the past few years my research has focused on the iCub platform basing it on the above concepts in order to maximise the impact of my work to the scientific community. My main contributions can be divided in 3 main streams such as computer vision (Perception), Cognitive Architectures (Learning effects of actions) and Software Engineering and System Integration

Selected Publications

Selected publications:
  • Kompatsiari, K., Ciardo, F., Tikhanoff, V. et al. Int J of Soc Robotics (2019).
  • Kompatsiari K, Ciardo F, Tikhanoff V, Metta G, Wykowska A (2018) On the role of eye contact in gaze cueing. Sci Rep 8(1):17842
  • Kompatsiari K., Tikhanoff V., Ciardo F., et al. 2017. The Importance of Mutual Gaze in Human- Robot Interaction. In Intelligent Virtual Agents Brinkman W.-P., Broekens J., & Heylen D., Eds. 443–452. Cham: Springer International Publishing
  • Fantacci C., Pattacini U., Tikhanoff V., Natale L. (2017) Markerless visual servoing for humanoid robot platformsIEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots
  • Fantacci C., Pattacini U., Tikhanoff V., Natale L. (2017) Visual end-effector tracking using a 3D model-aided particle filter for humanoid robot platforms IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems
  • Fantacci CVezzani G, Pattacini U, Tikhanoff V, Natale L (2017)Markerless visual servoing on unknown objects for humanoid robot platforms arXiv preprint arXiv:1710.04465
  • Kompatsiari K., Tikhanoff V., Ciardo F., Metta G., Wykowska A. (2017) The Importance of Mutual Gaze in Human-Robot Interaction. In: Kheddar A. et al. (eds) Social Robotics. ICSR 2017. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10652, Springer, 443-452. DOI:
  • Mar T, Tikhanoff V, Natale L (2017) What can I do with this tool? Self-supervised learning of tool affordances from their 3D geometry.IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems
  • Mar T., Tikhanoff V, Metta G, Natale L (2017) Self-Supervised Learning of Tool Affordances from 3D Tool Representation through Parallel SOM Mapping IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Singapore, 2017
  • Mar T., Tikhanoff V., Metta G., Natale L. (2015), "Self-supervised learning of grasp dependent tool affordances on the iCub Humanoid robot", ICRA IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Seattle.
  • Fannello S, Pattacini, U., Gori, I., Tikhanoff, V. Randazzo, M., Roncone, A., Odone, F. Metta, G. (2014) 3D Stereo Estimation and Fully Automated Learning of Eye-Hand Coordination in Humanoid Robots. IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots 
  • Gori, I. Pattacini, U., Tikhanoff, V, Metta, G. (2014) Three-Finger Precision Grasp on Incomplete 3D Point Clouds. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.
  • Tikhanoff, V., Pattacini U., Natale, L. and Metta, G. (2013) Exploring affordances and tool use on the iCub. IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots. 
  • Browatzki, B.; Tikhanoff V.; Metta G.; Bulthoff, H.; Wallraven, C. (2012). Active Object Recognition on a Humanoid Robot. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation IROS 2012 St. Paul Minnesota USA May 14-18 (Best paper award nomination)
  • Tikhanoff V., Cangelosi A., Metta G. (2011). Language understanding in humanoid robots: iCub simulation experiments. IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development. 3(1), 17-29 
  • Borisyuk R., Kazanovich Y., Chik D., Tikhanoff V.& Cangelosi A. (2009) A neural model of selective attention and object segmentation in the visual scene: An approach based on partial synchronization and star-like architecture of connections. Neural Networks
  • Courtney P., Michel O., Cangelosi A., Tikhanoff V., Metta G., Natale L., Nori F., & Kernbach S. 2009. Cognitive systems platforms using open source. In: R. Madhavan, E. Tunstel & E. Messina. Performance Evaluation and Benchmarking of Intelligent Systems, Springer.
  • Tikhanoff V., Cangelosi, A., P. Fitzpatrick, G. Metta, L. Natale, and F. Nori, “An open-source simulator for cognitive robotics research: The prototype of the iCub humanoid robot simulator,” in Proc. IEEE Work- shop Perform. Metrics Intell. Syst., Washington, D. C., 2008.
  • Cangelosi A, Tikhanoff V, Fontanari J, Hourdakis E. Integrating Language and Cognition: A Cognitive Robotics Approach. IEEE Computational Intelligence Magazine August 2007
  • Tikhanoff V, Cangelosi A, Fontanari J, Perlovsky L. Scaling up of action repertoire in linguistic cognitive agents. KIMAS 07 Integration of Knowledge Intensive Multi- Agent Systems. Waltham April 2007
  • Tikhanoff V, Fontanari J, Cangelosi A, Perlovsky L. Language and Cognition Integration through Modeling Field Theory: Simulations on category formation for symbol grounding. ICANN 06 International Conference on Artificial Neural Networks Athens, September 2006
  • Cangelosi A, Tikhanoff V. Integrating Action and Language in Cognitive Robots: Experiments with Modeling Field Theory. Fusion 2006 Conference Satellite EOARD workshop Firenze July 2006
  • Cangelosi A, Hourdakis E, Tikhanoff V. Language acquisition and symbol grounding transfer with neural networks and cognitive robots. Proceedings of IJCNN2006. International Joint Conference on Neural Networks Vancouver July 200


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I numeri di IIT

L’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) è una fondazione di diritto privato - cfr. determinazione Corte dei Conti 23/2015 “IIT è una fondazione da inquadrare fra gli organismi di diritto pubblico con la scelta di un modello di organizzazione di diritto privato per rispondere all’esigenza di assicurare procedure più snelle nella selezione non solo nell’ambito nazionale dei collaboratori, scienziati e ricercatori ”.

IIT è sotto la vigilanza del Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca e del Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze ed è stato istituito con la Legge 326/2003. La Fondazione ha l'obiettivo di promuovere l'eccellenza nella ricerca di base e in quella applicata e di favorire lo sviluppo del sistema economico nazionale. La costruzione dei laboratori iniziata nel 2006 si è conclusa nel 2009.

Lo staff complessivo di IIT conta circa 1440 persone. L’area scientifica è rappresentata da circa l’85% del personale. Il 45% dei ricercatori proviene dall’estero: di questi, il 29% è costituito da stranieri provenienti da oltre 50 Paesi e il 16% da italiani rientrati. Oggi il personale scientifico è composto da circa 60 principal investigators, circa 110 ricercatori e tecnologi di staff, circa 350 post doc, circa 500 studenti di dottorato e borsisti, circa 130 tecnici. Oltre 330 posti su 1400 creati su fondi esterni. Età media 34 anni. 41% donne / 59 % uomini.

Nel 2015 IIT ha ricevuto finanziamenti pubblici per circa 96 milioni di euro (80% del budget), conseguendo fondi esterni per 22 milioni di euro (20% budget) provenienti da 18 progetti europei17 finanziamenti da istituzioni nazionali e internazionali, circa 60 progetti industriali

La produzione di IIT ad oggi vanta circa 6990 pubblicazioni, oltre 130 finanziamenti Europei e 11 ERC, più di 350 domande di brevetto attive, oltre 12 start up costituite e altrettante in fase di lancio. Dal 2009 l’attività scientifica è stata ulteriormente rafforzata con la creazione di dieci centri di ricerca nel territorio nazionale (a Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) e internazionale (MIT ed Harvard negli USA) che, unitamente al Laboratorio Centrale di Genova, sviluppano i programmi di ricerca del piano scientifico 2015-2017.

IIT: the numbers

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) is a public research institute that adopts the organizational model of a private law foundation. IIT is overseen by Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca and Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze (the Italian Ministries of Education, Economy and Finance).  The Institute was set up according to Italian law 326/2003 with the objective of promoting excellence in basic and applied research andfostering Italy’s economic development. Construction of the Laboratories started in 2006 and finished in 2009.

IIT has an overall staff of about 1,440 people. The scientific staff covers about 85% of the total. Out of 45% of researchers coming from abroad 29% are foreigners coming from more than 50 countries and 16% are returned Italians. The scientific staff currently consists of approximately 60 Principal Investigators110 researchers and technologists350 post-docs and 500 PhD students and grant holders and 130 technicians. External funding has allowed the creation of more than 330 positions . The average age is 34 and the gender balance proportion  is 41% female against 59% male.

In 2015 IIT received 96 million euros in public funding (accounting for 80% of its budget) and obtained 22 million euros in external funding (accounting for 20% of its budget). External funding comes from 18 European Projects, other 17 national and international competitive projects and approximately 60 industrial projects.

So far IIT accounts for: about 6990 publications, more than 130 European grants and 11 ERC grants, more than 350 patents or patent applications12 up start-ups and as many  which are about to be launched. The Institute’s scientific activity has been further strengthened since 2009 with the establishment of 11 research nodes throughout Italy (Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) and abroad (MIT and Harvard University, USA), which, along with the Genoa-based Central Lab, implement the research programs included in the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.