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Jorn Malzahn

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Humanoids & Human Centered Mechatronics


IIT Central Research Labs Genova


Via Morego 30
+39 010 71781 598
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Photo: Körber-Stiftung / David Ausserhofer

Jörn Malzahn received his Diploma in electrical engineering from TU Dortmund University as the best of the year in 2008. In 2014 he received the Doctorate in Engineering (Dr.-Ing.) with distinction (summa cum laude) from the Institute of Control Theory and Systems Engineering (RST) of TU Dortmund University. The dissertation entitled:

"Modeling and Control of Multi-Elastic-Link Robots under Gravity – From Oscillation Damping and Position Control to Physical Interaction"

Print version: Fortschritt-Berichte VDI Reihe 8 Nr. 1237. Düsseldorf: VDI Verlag 2014
ISBN 978-3-18-523708-9
Online version

Videos on YouTube

has been selected as award finalist for Germany's most important dissertations of the year 2015 by the Körber Stiftung ("Deutscher Studienpreis für die wichtigsten Dissertationen des Jahres"). In January 2015 he joined the Advanced Robotics Group at IIT.

Jörn Malzahn is member of the program committee of the bi-annual German mechatronics conference "VDI Mechatronik" and the annual IFToMM D-A-CH Conference. He chaired the 1st IFToMM D-A-CH Conference in 2015. Moreover, he serves as associate editor for the IEEE International Conference on Multi-sensor Fusion and Integration for Intelligent Systems (MFI) and was co-chair of the 9th Human-Friendly Robotics Workshops 2016 in Genoa. He organized the IEEE/RSJ IROS 2016 Workshop “Mechatronics behind Force/Torque Controlled Robot Actuation: Secrets and Challenges", the IEEE/RSJ IROS 2017 Workshop On the Energetic Economy of Robotics and Biological Systems: A challenging handicap to overcome,  as well as the ICRA 2018 Workshop "On Criteria, Metrics and Experiments for Design, Selection and Comparison" and the IEEE/RSJ IROS 2019 Workshop on the "Development of Agile Robots". He currently serves as a guest editor for the joint topic on "Advances in Mechatronics and Biomechanics towards Efficient Robot Actuation" in the Frontiers Journals "Bioengineering and Biotechnology" as well as "Frontiers in Robotics and AI" and serves as a reviewer for international journals and conferences such as T-RO, T-MECH, RAM, RSS, RAL, RAM, ICRA and IROS.

His research interests are bio-inspired mechatronics, cognitive and modular robots with an emphasis on force/torque controlled actuation towards a new generation of energy efficient, powerful and yet sensitive robots.

Several tools developed during his work are available online as open sources:

The Compliant Joint Toolbox

Code Generation Module in the Robotics Toolbox by Peter Corke

Efficiency analysis of Series Clutched Actuation

FloBaRoID - A Framework for dynamical system identification of floating-base rigid body tree structures

MERIt - a Multi-Elastic link Robot Identification Dataset 


Finalist "Deutscher Studienpreis für die wichtigsten Dissertationen des Jahres" (transl: Award for the most important dissertations of the year), Körber Stiftung, 2015 (link)



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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.