Life-like Artefacts for Motor-Postural Experiments and Development of new Control Technologies inspired by Rapid Animal locomotion

BioRobotics Institute Role: 

Project Lifetime
Mar 2008 to Sep 2011

Research Program: 
SEVENTH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME THEME ICT-2007.8.3 - FET proactive 3 “Bio-ICT convergence”
Grant no.: 
Dedicated website: 

The objective of the LAMPETRA project is to develop lamprey/salamander bioinspired artefacts to perform neuroscientific studies related to goal-directed locomotion, and to find new solutions for high-performance artificial locomotion, in terms of fast-response, adaptability, reliability, energy efficiency, and control. These issues will be pursued by implementing a bio-inspired artificial system (mimicking the neuronal level, the biomechanical structure, the control functions) and by performing advanced numerical simulations focused on the neural control system of locomotion.

The bio-inspired system will be composed by a high number of segments, a compliant body structure, muscle-like actuators, legs-like appendages, artificial stretch receptors, vestibular and vision sensors, low and high level control. Numerical simulations are aimed at formulating a model of central pattern generator, at developing a software platform for replicating body movements, at implementing sensors inputs, visuo-motor coordination, posture control and legs movements. Experiments will include also a bio-hybrid approach, interfacing a lamprey/salamander nervous system with acquisition and control hardware.

The project is expected to achieve advances in neurosciences, technology, and engineering. Neuroscience will provide information to be transferred to mathematical models, creating a bridge between biology and technology. Numerical simulations will be used to analyse these models and to study system properties in well defined situations. Physical experiments with biomimetic artefacts will be performed for deeper understanding of mechanisms governing a complex living system in a real scenario.

The project is also expected to bring developments in the field of control, i.e. the behaviour-based control inspired to animals, by rethinking control methods and involving the combination of digital and analogue circuits.

What we do: 

Our main work is the development of the hardware component of the bio-inspired artefacts body. In order to analyse the lamprey/salamander locomotor system through a working bio-mimetic physical model it is necessary that the used artefact is deeply biomimetic, replicating animal characteristics from the neuronal level, to the biomechanical structure, up to control and behavioural functions. This is of particular importance especially for what concerns the hardware artefact that must receive and code in the proper way the sensors signals according to neuroscientific models, provide signals compatible with the “neuro-mimetic” signal for control, and interact physically with the environment. In this vision it is extremely important use sensors and actuators with highly bio-mimicking behaviour.

The artefact(s) will by based on multisegmental model with bio-mimetic segmental actuators and bio-mimetic proprioceptive and exteroceptive sensors in each segment (myotome). We are also involved in system integration of the bio-inspired artefacts, including hardware and software components, mainly provided by WP4 and WP5. Two different version of bio-mimetic artefact will be developed and integrate: - First early prototype, based on integration of selected commercial available components. - Second advanced prototype, based on the integration of ad hoc developed components.


Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (SSSA; Italy, Project Coordinator);

Karolinska Institutet (KI; Sweden);

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL; Switzerland);

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH; Sweden);

Centre de Recherche INSERM U862 (U862; France).

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Meet the team

Stefano Orofino, Lorenza Capantini, Luigi Manfredi