Francesco Corucci

Dr.  Corucci , Francesco

+39 050 88 3479

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Post Doctoral Fellow

«The way to know life is to love many things», Vincent Van Gogh

About Me: 
Bio-sketch: Francesco Corucci was born in Pisa, Italy, on August 2nd, 1988. He has achieved a PhD in BioRobotics (with honors) from The BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (SSSA), advised by Prof. Cecilia Laschi (external Tutor: Prof. Josh Bongard). He develops part of his activities at the Research Centre on Marine Robotics and Sea Technologies (Livorno). Since November 2015 he is as a member of the Morphology, Evolution & Cognition Laboratory, Vermont Complex Systems Center, University of Vermont (USA), where he works with Prof. Josh Bongard. He previously worked in the Intelligent Automation Systems group of the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory (SSSA). He achieved a MEng and BEng in Computer Engineering (with honors, within the “Excellence Program”) from University of Pisa (IT). He has been involved in a number of research projects (PoseiDRONE, RoboSoft), and served as external consultant for others (COMAS). He is Student Member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), as a member of the Special Interest Group on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation (SIGEVO). His research interests include evolutionary robotics, artificial life, embodied cognition, morphological computation, soft robotics, computational biology. His recent work is concerned with the evolution and development of morphologically-plastic soft robots. His ultimate goal is to understand the general nature of cognition, evolving adaptive and intelligence artificial creatures approaching the complexity of biological ones.
Latest news:
  • In 2016 my evolutionary simulations required more than five millions dedicated CPU hours on the Vermont Advanced Computing Core (VACC), the equivalent of almost 600 years of computation.
  • Our recent work was covered by popular websites such as IEEE Spectrum (link), The Verge (link), Interesting Engineering (link), Electronic 360 (link).
  • Our recent work on the evolution of swimming soft-bodied creatures was selected as a finalist in the 2016 GECCO Virtual Creatures Contest (Honorable Mention for Aesthetic Appeal), and was the 2nd best poster at ALIFE XV


Current position and activities:
  • PostDoctoral fellow at The BioRobotics Institute of the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna
  • Member of the Morphology, Evolution & Cognition Laboratory, advised by Prof. Joshua C. Bongard.
  • Teaching assistant for the following classes:
    • "Robotics", MSc in Computer Science, University of Pisa, Italy.
    • "Human and animal models in biorobotics"M.Sc. Bionics Engineering, jointly organized by University of Pisa and Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna
    • In this context I teach lessons and design student projectual activities related to evolutionary robotics and evolutionary computation in general. Projects and theses are always available, feel free to contact me if interested.
  • I serve as reviewer (especially in the field of evolutionary and developmental robotics, but also for what concerns bio-inspired robotics and artificial intelligence in general) for a number of Journals (e.g. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, Royal Society Open Science) and conferences
  • Founder of EVARK ™ © - Digital and Evolutionary Architecture [link], an interdisciplinary team of engineers and architects working in the field of hi-tech, bio-inspired, digital architecture. We recently got a special mention from investors in a competition of hi-tech ideas in the context of the Tuscan Startup Academy.
  • Occasional consultant for EU projects (e.g. COMAS) and companies (e.g. TechnoDeal)

Research interests: Astonished by the complexity, variety and sophistication of natural systems, I am interested in replicating in artificial form the processes that led to these systems, in order to better understand them and design more effective artificial ones.
I am particularly interested in evolutionary and developmental approaches (evolving and growing robots), and bio-inspired artificial intelligence in general. I regard techniques based on artificial evolution (evolutionary computation) as particularly promising in order to produce truly intelligent and adaptive machines, in the context of a bottom-up bio-inspired evolutionary path towards artificial intelligence. I mostly work in the field of evolutionary robotics, i.e. on applying algorithms inspired by the natural evolution in order to evolve artificial brains and bodies for adaptive robots (this paper is an excellent introduction to this field). I also contribute to related fields, such as artificial life, embodied intelligence and cognition, morphological computationsoft-robotics, bio-robotics, bio-inspired underwater locomotion. I work with massive computer simulations in which robots grow and evolve in simulated virtual environments. This process can take from a few days to several weeks even on a super computer with hundreds of computing nodes. Results are often surprising, and design solutions incredibly effective (usually far more effective than human-devised ones). The ultimate goal of my research is to develop general tools capable of producing well adapted machines, more and more similar to biological creatures, exhibiting complex life-like behaviors. In addition to the pure scientific interest, this kind of approach has the potential to overcome some of the limitations of current robotics, allowing robots to move from the very constrained environments in which they operated so far to the real world.

  • PhD in BioRobotics from The BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa (June 2017)
  • M.Eng. in Computer Engineering (summa cum laude, within the "Excellence Program", best GPA of the class) from University of Pisa (May 2013) - Curriculum in Embedded Systems and Industrial Informatics
  • B.Eng. in Computer Engineering (summa cum laude) from University of Pisa (October 2010)
  • High school scientific diploma, Liceo Scientifico U. Dini, Pisa (100/100)

Invited talks:

  • 2017-04-21 - École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL): "Evolutionary Developmental Soft Robotics: towards adaptive and intelligent machines following Nature's approach to design"
  • 2015-07-17 - Bristol Robotics Lab (BRL): "A case study in modeling, understanding and improving soft robots by applying embodied intelligence principles and evolutionary techniques"
  • 2016-04-26 - Soft Robotics Week, Marine Robotics Center, Livorno: "Evolutionary Soft Robotics: towards adaptive and intelligent machines following nature’s approach to design"
Previous experiences:
Before entering the PhD program, I worked in the Intelligent Automation Systems group of the PERCRO lab (PERCeptual Robotics and virtual environments, TeCIP Institute, also within SSSA), first as a trainee, then as a Research Collaborator. In this context I worked on autonomous robots for demolitions. Some thematics I had to deal with are: 3D perception in unstructured environments, robotic planning and control, HRI for industrial scenarios, paradigms for apprenticeship learning. During my MEng studies I also had the opportunity to develop a few projects at the ReTiS Lab (TeCIP Institute, SSSA), related to real-time embedded systems. Before that, during my BEng studies, I worked for a short period in the field of Wireless Sensor and Actuators Networks for smart buildings.
OpportunitiesI am always open to collaborations and new ideas. Theses and projects are always available for students. 
Just drop me an email if you are interested in any of the topics mentioned in this page, or if you have an idea you would like to develop (you can find my contacts in my CV -- not listed here to avoid spam -- or just email me to There are many opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations as well, in different engineering areas as well as in fields such as biology, neuroscience, design, architecture, art, to name a few. I am also glad to share my modest academic experience and answer any doubt or question students may have regarding academic life and how to pursue their interests in an academic setting. Feel free to contact me anytime.

Other references:
Personal: In my free time I practice deep freediving / apnea / breatholding with Apnea Academy, Centro Sub Pisa, One Breath Livorno. This is a sport I am deeply passionate about, mixing my love for nature and the sea with a challenging physical and mental training. I also love listening and playing music: I have been playing the bass guitar for quite a few years and, more recently, the drums.

Below some videos associated to recent publications

Selected Publications: 
  • S. Kriegman, N. Cheney, F. Corucci, J. Bongard, "A Minimal Developmental Model Can Increase Evolvability in Soft Robots", 2017, Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) (accepted, to appear)
  • F. Corucci, N. Cheney, S. Kriegman, C. Laschi, J. Bongard, "Evolutionary developmental soft robotics as a framework to study intelligence and adaptive behavior in animals and plants", 2017 (Journal paper, under review)
  • F. Corucci, "Evolutionary Developmental Soft Robotics: towards adaptive and intelligent soft machines following nature's approach to design", In Soft Robotics: Trends, Applications and Challenges, Springer, 2017 [paper]
  • H. Hauser, F. Corucci, "Morphosis -- Taking Morphological Computation to the Next Level", In Soft Robotics: Trends, Applications and Challenges, Springer, 2017 [paper]
  • F. Corucci, N. Cheney, H. Lipson, C. Laschi, and J. Bongard, "Evolving swimming soft-bodied creatures", ALIFE XV, The Fifteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems, 2016 (late breaking abstract) - Finalist in the 2016 GECCO Virtual Creatures Contest (Honorable Mention for Aesthetic Appeal) and 2nd best poster at ALIFE 2016 [paper, video]
  • F. Corucci, N. Cheney, H. Lipson, C. Laschi, and J. Bongard, “Material properties affect evolution’s ability to exploit morphological computation in growing soft-bodied creatures,”  ALIFE XV, The Fifteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems, 2016 [paper, video]
  • C. Picchi, F. Cinelli, R. Rubio, F. Corucci, "Artificial Life inspired Architecture: a sustainable and adaptive treehouses ecosystem in the Chilean forest," ALIFE XV, The Fifteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems, 2016 (late breaking abstract) [papervideo]
  • F. Corucci, M. Calisti, H. Hauser, C. Laschi "Shaping the body to shape the behavior: a more active role of the morphology in the brain-body trade-off", 13th European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL 2015) in York, United Kingdom, 20-24 July 2015 [paper]
  • F. Corucci, M. Calisti, H. Hauser, C. Laschi, "Evolutionary discovery of self-stabilized dynamic gaits for a soft underwater legged robot", Proceedings of the 17th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Robotics (ICAR2015), July 27-31, Istanbul, Turkey [paper]
  • F. Corucci, M. Calisti, H. Hauser, C. Laschi, "Novelty-based evolutionary design of morphing underwater robots", Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO), July 11-15 2015, Madrid, Spain - Best paper award nomination [paper, video]
  • M. Calisti, F. Corucci, A. Arienti, C. Laschi, "Bipedal walking of an octopus-inspired robot", In Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems - Living Machines 2014, Springer Lectures Notes in Artificial Intelligence [paper]
  • V. Cacucciolo*, F. Corucci*, M. Cianchetti, C. Laschi, "Evolving optimal swimming in different fluids: a study inspired by batoid fishes", (* equal contribution), In Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems - Living Machines 2014, Springer Lectures Notes in Artificial Intelligence [paper, video]
  • M. Calisti, F. Corucci, A. Arienti, C. Laschi, "Dynamics of underwater legged locomotion: modeling and experiments on an octopus-inspired robot"Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 10.4 (2015): 046012. Featured Article [papervideo]
  • F. Giorgio-Serchi, A. Arienti, F. Corucci, M. Giorelli, C. Laschi, "Hybrid parameter identification of a multi-modal underwater soft robot", Bioinspiration & Biomimetics (2017) [paper]
  • M. Calisti, M. Cianchetti, M. Manti, F. Corucci, C. Laschi, "Contest-driven soft-robotics boost: the RoboSoft Grand Challenge", Frontiers Robotics and AI
  • F. Corucci, M. Calisti, A. Arienti, C. Laschi, "The locomotion of an underwater soft robot as a case study for further investigating morphological computation and embodied intelligence", RoboSoft Plenary Meeting, Pisa, Italy (2014)
  • F. Corucci, "Evolutionary design of morphing underwater robots", Soft Robotics Week 2015, Livorno, Italy (2015)
  • F. Corucci, E. Ruffaldi, "Toward autonomous robots for demolitions in unstructured environments", In Intelligent Autonomous Systems 13 (pp. 1515-1532), Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol. 302, Springer International Publishing [paper, video, coverage on KUKA youBot's website]
  • F. Corucci, G. Anastasi, F. Marcelloni, "A WSN-based Testbed for Energy Efficiency in Buildings" Proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on Computers and Communications (ISCC 2011), Corfu, Greece, June 28 – July 1, 2011. [paper]
  • G. Anastasi, F. Corucci, F. Marcelloni, "An Intelligent System for Electrical Energy Management in Buildings" Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Systems Design and Applications (ISDA 2011), Córdoba, Spain, November 22-24, 2011. [paper]
M.Eng. thesis: "Robotic perception and control for a demolition task in unstructured environments" [link]
B.Eng. thesis: "Wireless Sensor and Actuator Networks for energy efficiency in buildings"