STMicroelectronics and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Joint for Research and Innovation in Bio-Robotics, Smart Systems and Microelectronics
STMicroelectronics and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa announced the creation of a joint laboratory for research and innovation in bio-robotics, smart systems and microelectronics.
Supporting the expansion of research in biologically-inspired robots with human-like structures and behavior, ST and the BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna are working to extend their understanding of locomotion principles in sensing, actuation, dynamics and control of various biological systems with the opening of a joint laboratory in Catania, Italy, where ST has advanced R&D activities in robotics and automation, smart system integration, as well as the exploration of new materials and technologies, including opto-electronics and electronics on plastic. This joint lab will enable the close collaboration leading to a better understanding of the physical design of bodies and the organization of their sensory and nervous systems.
In the past five years, ST and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna have been collaborating to develop and promote advanced robotics and ‘smart’ systems based on ST’s leading-edge semiconductor products and technologies. Completed joint projects include DustBot, a scientific platform integrating self-driven, self-navigating ‘service robots’ for selective waste collection and street cleaning in city centers, which were successfully demonstrated in a number of places around the world in 2009.
In smart systems, which are miniaturized devices that incorporate functions of sensing, actuation and control, the collaboration is already exploring the capabilities of smart sensors in medical applications, where experts from ST and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna are collaborating to develop smart toys equipped with motion and pressure sensors for early diagnosis of neuro-developmental delays and autistic pathologies in small children. While the child plays with the smart toy, the system will constantly monitor the child’s movement and posture, as well as how he/she grasps or holds the toy. The researchers anticipate that doctors will be able to diagnose neurological abnormalities in children, even before the child is able to speak. The ST and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna researchers, in collaboration with medical institutions and a toy manufacturer, expect to prototype toys with sensors for infants, including clear operating guides for doctors, within the next two years.
“Bio-robotics and smart systems will be fundamental to the sustainable development of human society in the 21st century, improving our quality of life in all its aspects, from manufacturing and medicine to smart homes and environment protection,” said Professor Paolo Dario, Director of the BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna. “The joint laboratory will help advance our efforts in creating the next generation of intelligent systems integrating microelectronics, mechanics and computing technologies.”
Taking a bold look into humanity’s future, the experts from ST and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna plan to work in the fascinating area of humanoid robots. These robots will be entirely new machines with flexible and compliant properties – soft-bodied robots made of Shape-Memory materials capable of acting and interacting physically, emotionally, socially and safely with humans. Equipped with all the right ingredients for the creation of these ‘robot companions,’ the ST and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna lab aims to participate in the EU Future and Emerging Technologies Programme for the development of companion robots. One example of the lab’s interests is in replacing the motor from a conventional robot’s elbow and replacing it with an artificial ‘muscle,’ making the system lighter, as well as more natural looking.
Advanced Robots and Smart Systems
(Photo from ST Website)