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Massimo Regoli

Grasping and manipulation using tactile sensing



Massimo Regoli acquired a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering (cum laude) and a Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence (cum laude), both from Sapienza University of Rome. During his master thesis he worked for about a year with the Nao robots, implementing smart soccer-related behaviours based on Bayesian classifiers for the RoboCup competition.

After a brief period of work in a software house, he joined the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, where he is a third year Ph.D. student in Bioengineering and Robotics. He is studying how to exploit the tactile sensors of the iCub robot in order to endow it with skills such as grasping and manipulation. During his Ph.D. he gained practical and theoretical knowledge on machine learning and control theory. As part of his project he has implemented a controller that regulates the pressure applied by the fingertips on an object to maintain a stable grip. He used machine learning techniques (mainly reinforcement learning, neural networks and Gaussian mixture regression in the context of learning by demonstration) to improve this controller so that the robot can manipulate the object to achieve a better grasp.


He also investigated the problem of in-hand object recognition using tactile sensors, in which he used a machine learning approach (using algorithms based on Regularized Least Squares) that allowed the iCub robot to discriminate objects through tactile interaction.



Machine learning tactile sensing grasping and manipulation control theory

Selected Publications

Regoli M., Pattacini U., Metta G., and Natale L., Hierarchical Grasp Controller Using Tactile Feedback, in IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, Cancun, Mexico, 2016. Selected as best paper finalist (interactive session). [pdf]

Regoli M., Jamali N., Metta G., and Natale L., Controlled Tactile Exploration and Haptic Object Recognition, in Proc. IEEE International Conference on Advanced Robotics, Hong Kong, China, 2017. Selected as best paper finalist. [pdf]


  • Finalist for the Best Interactive Session Paper Award: Regoli, M., Pattacini, U., Metta, G., and Natale, L., Hierarchical Grasp Controller Using Tactile Feedback.
  • Finalist for the Best Paper Award: Regoli, M., Jamali, N., Metta, G., and Natale, L., Controlled Tactile Exploration and Haptic Object Recognition.
  • Student Excellence Program: a special award for students who achieve a Master’s degree in two academic years with a high grade after having carried out extra practical and theoretical activities.
  • First place in the Brain national competition annually organized by the Italian section of the high IQ society Mensa (
  • Second place for two consecutive years in the selections held at Sapienza Università di Roma for the semi-finals of the ACM international programming competitions (C++ language), held in Paris.
  • First place in the admission test of the faculty of Engineering at Sapienza Università di Roma with more than 2400 participants. The quizzes were mainly focused on logic and mathematics.


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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.