ANGuilliform Robot with ELectric Sense

BioRobotics Institute Role: 

Principal Investigator: 
Paolo Dario

Project Lifetime
Feb 2009 to Jul 2012

Funding Institutions: 

European Community

Research Program: 
Grant no.: 
Contribution to SSSA: 
386K euro
Dedicated website: 

The aim of the ANGELS project is to design and build a prototype of a reconfigurable Anguilliform swimming robot able to split into smaller agents (and vice-versa), each equipped with a bio-inspired “electric sense” used both for recognition of objects and communication between agents. This mode of active perception, present in gymnotid and mormyrid fish, is based on the polarisation of certain regions of the fish body, so generating an electric field flowing through an electroreceptive skin that plays the role of an electric retina. These fishes’ use of changes in body morphology, adapted to their electroperception systems, will be embodied in the intelligent control of the reconfigurable ANGELS robot. The electric field generated around the robots can be considered as a prolongation of their material body in the surrounding water. This prolongation, that we name “electric-body”, can then be shaped through electric reconfigurations. Thus the intelligence encoded in the animals’ morphology will be applied to the design of a new generation of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles able to adapt to their environment and suited to a wide spectrum of uses, in particular in situations where vision cannot be used.

What we do: 

We are involved in the development of the Angels prototype by achieving and addressing the following sub-objectives: - Development of the mechanical structure of the Angels System; - Development of high efficiency actuators and mechanisms for swimming, attachment/detachment of modules; - Development of on board electronics, integrating control, proprioceptive sensors and communication capabilities; - Integration of energy sources in the system; -Extension of the wall detection sensors of ARMINES to agents and objects electrolocation and to inter-agent communication; -Experimentation of the multi-agent synchronised swimming and to the dynamical inter-agents reconnection- disconnection.


Association pour la recherche et le développement des méthodes et processus industriels, (ARMINES, France)

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, (EPFL, Switzerland)

University of Bonn, (UBO, Germany)

University of Stuttgart, (USTUTT, Germany)

CNRS-UNIC, UPR 2191, (CNRS-UNIC, France)

Instituto de Investigaciones Biologicas Clemente Estable, (IIBCE, Uruguay)

Universidad de la República, (UDELAR, Uruguay)

Media - pictures: 



Boyer F., Lebastard V., Chevallereau C., Servagent N., Underwater electro-navigation in the dark: an embodied solution,  International Journal of Robotics Research, 2011

Lebastard V., Chevallereau C., Girin A., Servagent N., Gossiaux P.B., Boyer F., Environment reconstruction and navigation with electric sense based on kalman filter,  International Journal of Robotics Research, 2011

Mintchev S., Stefanini C., Girin A., Marrazza S., Orofino S., Lebastard V., Manfredi L., Dario P. & Boyer F., An Underwater Reconfigurable Robot with Bioinspired Electric Sense,  In Proc.2012 IEEE Int. Conf. on Rob. and Aut., St. Paul, MN, 2012.

Mintchev S., Stefanini C., Marrazza S., Orofino S., Manfredi L., and Dario P., The first connection system for modular underwater bio-inspired robots,  IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2011), S.Francisco, California, September 2011.

Meet the team

Dr.  Stefanini , Cesare

Associate Professor

Dr.  Mintchev , Stefano


 Marrazza , Stefano


Dr.  Donati , Elisa

Post Doctoral Fellow

Godfried Jansen van Vuuren, Stefano Orofino, Luigi Manfredi.