Sustainable manufacturing through Advanced Robotics Training in Europe


BioRobotics Institute Role: 

Project Lifetime
Nov 2013 to Oct 2017

Research Program: 
Marie Curie Action – Initial Training Network (ITN)
Grant no.: 

SMART-E is a Doctoral Training Network, funded by the EU Commission’s FP7 Marie Curie Programme , with the aim to prepare the next generation of leading experts in advanced robotics to secure a sustainable manufacturing sector in Europe. The network involves the collaboration of eight European institutions – the University of Salford, University of Zurich, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Italian Institute of Technology, Technical University of Munich, FESTO, Airbus and Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at the University of Sheffield.

The network is bringing together leading experts in the field of embodied intelligence, compliant, soft robotics, advanced manufacturing, industrial robotics and automation, smart materials and machine learning in Europe.

Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna announces 2 ERS (Early Stage Researcher) fellowships within the European Marie Curie Action ITN (Initial Training Network). Students who obtain the fellowship will be enrolled to the XXIX cycle of the PhD Programme in Biorobotics a.y 2013/2014. More information is available at: PhD Applications Online

>> Deadline is extended to March 20, 2014 <<

Main Objectives

  • Designing and delivering a globally leading, sustainable doctoral training programme;
  • Providing the participants of the programme with complementary business, leadership and interpersonal skills; exposure to different working cultures in academic and business sectors internationally.
  • Devising innovative solutions for industrial applications in Advanced Robotics and Intelligent automation for sustainable manufacturing in 3 broad topic areas i) Dexterous, Soft and Compliant Robotics in Manufacturing; ii) Reconfigurable and Logistics Robotics; and iii) Safety and Human Robot interaction and cooperation
What we do: 

We lead the topic area "Dexterous, soft and compliant robotics in manufacturing" focusing on the following sub-projects which are directly executed by us:

  • Design of the morphology and kinematics of the gripper, development of prototype octopus-based soft robotic gripper for manipulation in manufacturing
  • Realization of the materials for the octopus-based soft robotic manipulator
  • Development of a prototype of a soft robotic gripper for manufacturing application

Flexible automation is one of the major benefits of robots. By contrast grippers and end effectors used with robots are generally only able to grasp a single or small selection of parts. Often the end effectors must be changed if the robot is to perform a new task. For this reason there has been extensive interest in the development of dexterous robot hands. Although the existing examples exhibit high levels of dexterity, so far they are not sufficiently robust for use in industrial applications. This topic area will address issues in development of end-effectors focusing on novel mechanical design that promotes a new softer, more compliant philosophy. This will require research in mechanism design, actuation, control, sensing and cognition and this will form key research targets.



Samia Nefti-Meziani, Prof., University of Salford, UK (coordinator)
Steven Davis, Dr., University of Salford, UK
Sam Turner, Dr., University of Sheffield, UK
Jim Heley, Dr., University of Sheffield, UK
Rolf Pfeifer, Prof., University of Zürich, Switzerland
Helmut Hauser, Dr., University of Zürich, Swizerland
Darwin Caldwell, Prof., Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Italy
Cecilia Laschi, Prof., Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy
Dirk Pensky, Dr., FESTO, Germany
Mark Summers, Dr., Airbus, UK



Meet the team