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Claudio Semini Write a Message

Researcher TT (TT1)
Head of the Dynamic Legged Systems lab


Via Morego 30
+39 010 71781 912
+39 010 71781 912

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Claudio Semini is currently the head of the Dynamic Legged Systems Lab that developed a number of high-performance hydraulic robots, including HyQ, HyQ2Max, MiniHyQ and HyQ centaur. Claudio Semini was born in Zurich, Switzerland. He graduated in Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich in 2005. For his Master’s Thesis on Obstacle Avoidance for a Redundant Robot Manipulator he did research at the Shigeo Hirose Robotics Laboratory of the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan, and subsequently worked at Toshiba’s Corporate Research and Development Center in Kawasaki, Japan until the end of 2006.

Since the beginning of 2007 Claudio Semini has been a member of the Advanced Robotics Department at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), where he started the HyQ project as his PhD research under the supervision of Nikos Tsagarakis and Darwin Caldwell. In 2010 he finished the design and construction of the first version of the HyQ robot and successfully defended his PhD with the title "HyQ - Design and Development of a Hydraulically Actuated Quadruped Robot". In the subsequent years, in tight collaboration with Prof. Jonas Buchli, the HyQ team implemented a wide repertoire of motions ranging from highly dynamic tasks such as running and jumping, to carefully planned walking through challenging terrain.

More details on the project can be found here:
Hydraulically Actuated Quadruped Robot - HyQ

or on his personal website:

Selected Publications

C. Semini, "HyQ – Design and Development of a Hydraulically Actuated Quadruped Robot,” Dissertation, Italian Institute of Technology and University of Genoa, Italy, 2010.
full thesis
] (high resolution version)

Selection of Conference, Journal, Workshops (for a complete and always up-to-date list visit

C. Semini, V. Barasuol, T. Boaventura, M. Frigerio, M. Focchi, D. G. Caldwell, J. Buchli, Towards versatile legged robots through active impedance control, The International Journal of Robotics Research (IJRR), 2015. (published in June 2015)
  [full article]

C. Semini, V. Barasuol, T. Boaventura, M. Frigerio, J. Buchli, "Is Active Impedance the Key to a Breakthrough for Legged Robots?" International Symposium of Robotics Research (ISRR), 2013.
     [full article]

V. Barasuol, J. Buchli, C. Semini, M. Frigerio, E. R. De Pieri, D. G. Caldwell, "A Reactive Controller Framework for Quadrupedal Locomotion on Challenging Terrain", IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2013.
   [full article]

T. Boaventura, M. Focchi, M. Frigerio, J. Buchli, C. Semini, G. A. Medrano-Cerda, D. G. Caldwell, "On the role of load motion compensation in high-performance force control", IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2012.
   [full article]

C. Semini, H. Khan, M. Frigerio, T. Boaventura, M. Focchi, J. Buchli and D. G. Caldwell, "Design and Scaling of Versatile Quadruped Robots", Int. Conf. on Climbing and Walking Robots (CLAWAR), 2012.
   [full article]

T. Boaventura, C. Semini, J. Buchli, M. Frigerio, M. Focchi, D. G. Caldwell, "Dynamic Torque Control of a Hydraulic Quadruped Robot", Proceedings IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2012, St. Paul, USA.
   [full article]

C. Semini, N. G. Tsagarakis, E. Guglielmino, M. Focchi, F. Cannella and D. G. Caldwell, "Design of HyQ - a Hydraulically and Electrically Actuated Quadruped Robot," Proc. IMechE Part I: J. Systems and Control Engineering, vol. 225, no. 6, pp. 831-849, 2011.
   [pdf (preprint), link]

C. Semini, N. G. Tsagarakis, E. Guglielmino and D. G. Caldwell, "Design and experimental evaluation of the hydraulically actuated prototype leg of the HyQ robot", International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2010 IEEE/RSJ.
   [full article]

M. Focchi, E. Guglielmino, C. Semini, T. Boaventura, Y. S. Yang, D. G. Caldwell, "Control of a Hydraulically-Actuated Quadruped Robot Leg," IEEE Int. Conf. on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010.
   [full article]

B. Vanderborght, N. G. Tsagarakis, C. Semini, R. Van Ham, D. G. Caldwell, "MACCEPA 2.0: Adjustable Compliant Actuator with Stiffening Characteristic for Energy Efficient Hopping," IEEE Int. Conf. on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pp. 544-549, 2009

C. Semini, N. G. Tsagarakis, B. Vanderborght, Y. S. Yang and D. G. Caldwell, "HyQ - Hydraulically Actuated Quadruped Robot: Hopping Leg Prototype," IEEE/RAS-EMBS Int. Conf. on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob), pp.593-599, 2008.
    [full article]

C. Semini, N. G. Tsagarakis, D. G. Caldwell, "Dynamic Tasks of a Hydraulically Actuated Quadruped Robot," Poster at Dynamic Walking Conference, Delft (The Netherlands), May 2008.


Best paper award at CLAWAR 2017 conference for the paper: "A Combined Limit Cycle - Zero Moment Point based Approach for Omni-Directional Quadrupedal Bounding".

Best paper award at IEEE SIMPAR 2016 conference for the paper: "Fast Derivatives of Rigid Body Dynamics for Control, Optimization and Estimation" (in collaboration with ADRL of ETH Zurich)

Commended paper award at CLAWAR 2015 for the paper: "Lidar-based navigation-level path planning for field-capable legged robots"


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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.