Creative Engineering Design

Creativity and Engineering

Merging creativity with robust engineering approaches and methodologies is the key to the development of radically new machines and usable systems. Creative engineering design in robotics and biorobotics is a way to bridge research and industrial innovation, to develop acceptable and sustainable robots, and to educate creative students. The area of Creative Engineering Design at the BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna is focusing on this effort by fostering the virtuous loop smoothly connecting engineering to creativity.

Our approach

The ingredients on which the area is grounded are three fundamental  elements:

(1) a small team of motivated, creative and competent young researchers with multidisciplinary background;

(2) a number of challenging research projects, which funding framework is often proactively achieved by the team itself by participating with original ideas to competitive international calls;

(3) a set of contacts with companies and focused technical activities targeted at solving real industrial needs.

The level of success of the area is measured by evaluating results on a regular basis, in terms of number of original articles published on international journals, exploited IPR, active Projects, career achievements by former group members.

Principal Investigators


Grants and Collaborations

Active EU founded projects and industrial collaborations:
Note: no specific information can be disseminated for industrial collaborations due to non disclosure agreements signed with the companies

-) subCULTron: the project aims at achieving long-term autonomy in a learning, self-regulating, self-sustaining underwater society/culture of robots in a high-impact application area: Venice, Italy.
-) OPTEMUS: the project aims at decreasing the energy consumption of an A-segment EV by at least 43%.
-) GE Oil & Gas
-) Magneti Marelli
-) Brembo 
-) Italgas
-) AAT - Oranfresh

Past EU Grants and industrial collaborations:

-) CoCoRo: the project aimed at creating a swarm of interacting, cognitive, autonomous robots. The Consortium developed a swarm of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) able to interact with each other and which can balance tasks (interactions between/within swarms).
-) Replicator: the project focused on the development of an advanced robotic system, consisting of a super-large-scale swarm of small autonomous mobile micro-robots that are capable of self-assembling into large artificial organisms.
-) Lampetra: the objective of the project was 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.
-) Integ-Micro: this project aimed at creating new high precision manufacturing technologies to respond cost-effectively and eco-friendly to the mass customization paradigm within the production of complex shape micro parts, embedded systems and miniaturized products at micro/meso-scale level (from 10 to 10.000 micron range).
-) ANGELS: the aim of the project was 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.

Past Industrial collaborations:

-) Magna Closures
-) Esanastri
-) Pirelli
-) Toyota
-) Powersoft
-) Siemens VDO

Past National Grants:

-) BIOMEAR: the objective of the project was to develop of novel micro-manufactured biological and biohybrid prostheses for middle ear surgery. Health Program 2009 - Tuscany Region.




Papers and Proceedings

  • Mota C., Danti S., D'Alessandro D., Trombi L., Ricci C., Puppi D., Dinucci D., Milazzo M., Stefanini C., Chiellini F., Moroni L., Berrettini S., Multiscale fabrication of biomimetic scaffolds for tympanic membrane tissue engineering. Biofabrication. 2015;7(2):025005.
  • Bonsignori, G., Stefanini, C., Scarfogliero, U., Mintchev, S., Benelli, G., Dario, P., The Green leafhopper, Cicadella viridis (hemiptera, auchenorrhyncha, cicadellidae), jumps with near-constant acceleration (2013), Journal of Experimental Biology, 216 (7), pp. 1270-1279.
  • Benelli, G., Bonsignori, G., Stefanini, C., Raspi, A., Canale, A., The production of female sex pheromone in Bactrocera oleae (Rossi) young males does not influence their mating chances (2013), Entomological Science, 16 (1), pp. 47-53.
  • De Cristofaro, S., Funaro, N., Feriti, G.C., Rostagno, M., Comoglio, M., Merlo, A., Stefanini, C., Dario, P., High-speed micro-milling: Novel coatings for tool wear reduction (2012), International Journal of Machine Tools and Manufacture, 63, pp. 16-20.
  • Berrettini, S., Danti, S., De Vito, A., D'Alessandro, D., Forli, F., Mancini, I., Stefanini, C., Bruschini, L., Preformed homologous cortical bone prostheses for ossiculoplasty: Preliminary clinical results in eighteen patients (2012), Clinical Otolaryngology, 37 (5), pp. 415-421.
  • Russo, S., Harada, K., Ranzani, T., Manfredi, L., Stefanini, C., Menciassi, A., Dario, P., Design of a Robotic Module for Autonomous Exploration and Multimode Locomotion (2012), IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics.
  • 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 (2012), Proceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, art. no. 6224956, pp. 1149-1154.
  • Stefanini, C., Orofino, S., Manfredi, L., Mintchev, S., Marrazza, S., Assaf, T., Capantini, L., Sinibaldi, E., Grillner, S., Wallen, P., Dario, P., A compliant bioinspired swimming robot with neuro-inspired control and autonomous behavior (2012), Proceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, art. no. 6224948, pp. 5094-5098.
  • Stefanini, C., Orofino, S., Manfredi, L., Mintchev, S., Marrazza, S., Assaf, T., Capantini, L., Sinibaldi, E., Grillner, S., Wallén, P., Dario, P., A novel autonomous, bioinspired swimming robot developed by neuroscientists and bioengineers (2012), Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, 7 (2), art. no. 025001.
  • Li, F., Liu, W., Fu, X., Bonsignori, G., Scarfogliero, U., Stefanini, C., Dario, P., Jumping like an insect: Design and dynamic optimization of a jumping mini robot based on bio-mimetic inspiration (2012), Mechatronics, 22 (2), pp. 167-176.
  • Boyer, F., Stefanini, C., Ruffier, F., Viollet, S., Special issue featuring selected papers from the International Workshop on Bio-Inspired Robots (Nantes, France, 6-8 April 2011) (2012), Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, 7 (2), art. no. 020201.
  • Benelli, G., Canale, A., Bonsignori, G., Ragni, G., Stefanini, C., Raspi, A., Male Wing Vibration in the Mating Behavior of the Olive Fruit Fly Bactrocera oleae (Rossi) (Diptera: Tephritidae) (2012), Journal of Insect Behavior, 25 (6), pp. 590-603.
  • Benelli, G., Bonsignori, G., Stefanini, C., Canale, A., Courtship and mating behaviour in the fruit fly parasitoid Psyttalia concolor (Szépligeti) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae): The role of wing fanning (2012), Journal of Pest Science, 85 (1), pp. 55-63.


  • S. Danti,S. Berrettini, C. Stefanini, S. Marrazza (2013). Equipment and process to produce a biomimetic tissue prosthesis of tympanic membrane. WO/2015/040554, AOUP (Pisa). 
  • L. Ricotti, T. Assaf, C. Stefanini, A. Menciassi (2012). System for controlled administration of a substance from a human-body-implanted infusion device. WO2012/011132A1, Scuola Superiore di Studi Universitari e di Perfezionamento Sant'Anna.
  • C. Stefanini, P. Dario, M.C. Carrozza, S. De Cristofaro (2010). Electromagnetic step-by-step wobbling micromotor. WO2010035244, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna.
  • P. Valdastri, A. Menciassi, P. Dario, C. Quaglia, E. Buselli, C. Stefanini (2009). Dispositivo di attuazione per capsule endoscopiche. FI2009A000150, Scuola Sant'Anna.
  • C. Stefanini, P. Castrataro, D. Accoto, M. Sabatini (2008). Miniaturised Generator for the Production of Electrical Energy from Vibrations. WO2008062377, Encrea srl. C.
  • Stefanini, S. Mintchev, P. Dario (2008). Magnetic Actuator for adaptive actuation. FI2008A000150, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna.
  • P. Dario, A. Menciassi, C. Stefanini, S. Gorini, G. Pernorio, D. Accoto (2008). Teleoperated Endoscopic Capsule Equipped With Active Locomotion System. US Patent n. US2008091070, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna.
  • M. Ferrari, C. Stefanini (2006). Clip and clip applicator for closing blood vessels. US2006271103, Karl Storz GmbH.
  • P. Dario, A. Pietrabissa, B. Magnani, C. Stefanini (2006). Endoscopic surgery device for the insertion and recovery of a haemostatic plug at the surgical site. EP1699401, MicroTech srl.
  • P. Dario, A. Menciassi, C. Stefanini, A. Pietrabissa (2001). Auxiliary forceps for hand assisted laparoscopic surgery. US no. 7399309, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna.
Our Team

Creative Design Group - Actual Members

Elisa Donati - PhD Candidate

Margherita Mencattelli - PhD Candidate

Mario Milazzo - PhD Student

Francesco Inglese - Research Assistant

Graziano Ferrari - Collaborator

Riccardo Pelliccia - PhD Candidate

Donato Romano - Research Assistant

Carmen Cavallotti - Post Doc Researcher

Giovanni Benelli - Post Doc Researcher

Godfried Jansen van Vuuren - Specialized Technician

Creative Design Group - Former Members

Gabriella Bonsignori, PhD - Post Doc Researcher

Stefano Mintchev, PhD 

Tareq Assaf, PhD - Post Doc Researcher

Sarah De Cristofaro, PhD - Post Doc Researcher

Stefano Marrazza - Research Assistant

Monica Lucassino - Research Assistant

Salvatore Larenza - Research Assistant

Lorenza Capantini, PhD

Gian Carlo Feriti, PhD

Umberto Scarfogliero, PhD