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Ferdinando Cannella

Head of Industrial Robotic Unit


Via Morego, 30
+39 010 2896 562
+39 338 96 76 884
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Ferdinando Cannella received his first PhD (University of Padua) in 2002 in “Mechanical Measurement applied to Engineering” with Thesis “Optical Measurement of strain: Application on Timing Belt” and his second PhD (Polytechnic University of Marche) in 2006 in “Mechanical Engineering” with Thesis “Stiffness Modelling and Kinematic Analysis of Carton Handling and Manipulation with a Reconfigurable Mechanism using Numerical Simulation”. From January 2005 he has been working at King’s College of London, University of London as Post-doctor Visiting Researcher in the ARCHAPS (Automatic Reconfigurable Confectionary Handling and Packaging System) project. The aim of this collaboration is to improve the knowledge in carton crease behavior and folding reconfigurable mechanisms.

He joined on 2008 to Advanced Robotics Department lead by Prof. Darwin Caldwell at the Italian Institute of Technology and from October 2010 he worked as a Team Leader at the IIT: the topic is the Flexible Multi-Body Simulations applied to the development of Robot Manipulators, Packaging and Biomedical Devices.

From 2015 to 2019 he has been responsible for the Advanced Industrial Automation Laboratory and he is head of the Industrial Robotics Unit, with which he has participated various European projects such as Autorecon, WearHap, EuroC++, SoftManBot and industrial projects with partners as GE Avio, Ansaldo, Tetra Pak, NovaCart, Camozzi, Fameccanica, etc.

He has published over 100 papers, 3 patents and granted about 3 challenges in industrial robotics. He is reviewer of several magazines of Mechanics and Robotics as well as Member of IEEE and ASME.

He is currently also responsible for the Robotics Macro-node within ARTES 4.0 Competence Center, member of the Technical Scientific Committee of the START 4.0 Competence Center and of DIH Liguria.

His research is on investigation and development new reconfigurable grippers, manipulators, packaging mechanisms exploiting the bio-inspiration models supported by his significant experience in using Computer-Aided Engineering tools for Co-Simulation (Multi-body, Finite Element, Control and Optimization Tools).

The main topics are:

  • in-hand manipulation and flexible materials handling
  • reconfigurable mechanisms and elasticity control
  • numerical simulation and digital twin
  • tactile and force sensors

The main application fields are:

  • industrial manufacturing
  • inspection and predictive maintenance of machines and infrastructures
  • packaging and quality control
  • peripheral neuropathies and biomedical device


Industrial Robotic Unit (URI)

The Industrial Robotics Unit (URI) former (Advanced Industrial Automation Lab, founded in 2015 within the Department of Advanced Robotics) aims to develop new robotics and automation solutions following the new needs of industrial robotics. That means to answer to the growing transfer technology requests within Italian Institute of Technology as well as to meet the growing demand of companies.

To achieve this goal, URI has a double soul that are fused within a single group:

  • industrial robotics research and application close to the factory needs
  • driver of the other research lines outcomes to improve their TRL (Technological Readiness Level) towards industrial needs

For this purpose, the CAE is main environment where the URI technologies are developed, both for having a common environment between companies and researchers and to work with other supporter companies for increase the final prototypes TRL.

At the moment, URI has accomplished or it is carrying on several projects with industries such as GE Avio Group, Fameccanica, Tetra Pak, Ansaldo Energia, Novacart, Camozzi, etc. both European and National projects such as Autorecon, WearHap, EuroC, SoftManBot, IRCRAM 4.0, etc.

Last, but not least, URI is part of the ARTES 4.0 and START 4.0 Competence Centres and claims 3 patents and 3 under process; it has also granted of 3 industrial robotics challenges and several national and international awards.


Industrial Robotics Simulation and Development


European Grants

  • 2019-2023 H2020 SoftManBot, Advanced Robotic Technology for Handling Soft Materials in Manufacturing Sectors (WP Leader)
  • 2015-2017 FP7 EuRoC: European Robotics Challenges (scientific co-responsible)
  • 2012-2015 FP7 WEARHAP: wearable haptics for humans and robots (task leader)
  • 2011-2014 FP7 AUTORECON: cooperative machines and open-architecture control systems (WP Leader)


Italian Grants

  • 2020-2022 IRCRAM 4.0 (Italy): International Research Center for Robot and Additive Manufacturing: 4.0, “Hub Ricerca e Innovazione” of Regione Lombardia (WP Leader)
  • 2019-2022 START 4.0 (Italy): Centro di Competenza per la sicurezza e l’ottimizzazione delle infrastrutture strategiche, National Competence Center (Technical Committee Member)
  • 2019-2022 ARTES 4.0 (Italy): Advanced Robotics and enabling digital TEchnologies & Systems 4.0, National Competence Center (Macronode Leader)


Industrial Projects

  • 2019-20 Axist (Italy): Robotic Elastic Compliant Control Balancing (scientific responsible)
  • 2018-19 Novacart (Italy): Interface for Automated (scientific responsible)
  • 2017-19 Luxottica(Italy): Quality Control of Eyewear (scientific responsible)
  • 2017-20 Joint Lab IIT-Camozzi (Italy): smart manipulation (scientific co-responsible)
  • 2017-18 Ansaldo Energia (Italy): mobile robot for electrical generator inspection (scientific co-responsible)
  • 2016-20 Fameccanica(Italy): Novel gripper for bottle handling application and flexible tape manipulation (scientific responsible)
  • 2015 NewRe NetWind (Italy): Numerical Modelling of Transportable Micro Wind Turbine Efficiency (scientific responsible)
  • 2014-15 Tetra Pak (Italy): Crease Stiffness Modelling (scientific responsible)
  • 2014-17 AVIO group (Italy): Automatic Inspection And Assembling (scientific responsible)



2020                Selected for the Final Examination, World Robotic Summit 2020 - Industrial Robotics Category Challenge, (date to be re-scheduled cause of COVID-19 outbreak), Aichi and Fukushima Prefectures (Japan)

2018                3rd Place, “IROS 2018 Fan Robotic Challenge”, October, 1-5, Madrid, Spain (1k€)

2017                1st Place, “Grant4Tech Challenge”, 17th May, Berlin, Germany (40k€)


2017                The PhD thesis of Maria Laura D’Angelo (IIT) subject “Study of Fingertip Tactile Sensitivity and Mechanical Properties Correlation” has been awarded with Premio Tesi di Dottorato Dario Scapaticci 2017. The announcement took place during the “2017 Mesap conference”, 6 July 2017, Turin.

2016                Best Application “Aerospace and Defense” Award – National Instruments Engineering Impact Awards 2016

2015                World Haptics Student Challenge, “Student Innovation Challenge 2015” held to NorthWestern University, Evanston, IL (USA) from 22nd to 27th of June

2015                Best Poster Award – International Conference in Computer Aided Engineering. Pacengo del Garda (VR), Italy


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