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Antonio Bicchi

Senior Researcher - Principal Investigator
Senior Scientist and Professor of Robotics

Research Line

Soft Robotics for Human Cooperation and Rehabilitation


IIT Central Research Labs Genova


+39 010 2896 525
+39 010 71781
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Antonio Bicchi is Senior Scientist at the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa and the Chair of Robotics at the University of Pisa. He graduated from the University of Bologna in 1988 and was a postdoc scholar at M.I.T.  Artificial Intelligence Lab` in 1988–1990.  He teaches  Control Systems and Robotics in the Department of Information Engineering  (DII) of the University of Pisa. He leads the SoftRobotics Lab for Human Cooperation and Rehabilitation at IIT in Genoa. He also heads since 1990 the Robotics Group at the Research Center "E. Piaggio'' of the University of PisaSince 2013 he is Adjunct Professor at the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering of Arizona State University.

His main research interests are in Robotics, Haptics, and Control Systems in general. He has published more than 400 papers on international journals, books, and refereed conferences. He is Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, which he founded in 2015. He has organized and chaired the first WorldHaptics Conference (2005). He is Editor of the book series ``Springer Briefs on Control, Automation and Robotics,'' and has served as an Editor for the Int.l J. Robotics Research, IEEE Trans. on Robotics and Automation, IEEE Trans. Automation Science and Engineering, and IEEE RAS Magazine. He was  Program Chair of the IEEE Int.. Conf. Robotics and Automation (ICRA'16), and General Chair of  the Int. Symposium on Robotics Research (ISRR' 2015) and Hybrid Systems: Computation and Control (HSCC 2007). He was Editor in Chief of the Conference Editorial Board for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS), Vice President for Publications (2013-2014), for Membership (2006-2007), and Distinguished Lecturer (2004-2006) of IEEE RAS. He served as the President of the Italian Association or Researchers in Automatic Control (2012-2013). He is the recipient of several awards and honors. From 2012 to 2017, his research on human and robot hands was granted an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council.  Antonio Bicchi is a Fellow of IEEE since 2005.

Personal page at Centro Piaggio VIDEO LINKS
Google Scholar RAI MEMEX AlterEgo Il Robot Avatar (Italiano, 2018)
Scientific Papers (most downloadable) RAI MEMEX SoftHand: Mano d`acciaio in guanto di velluto (Italiano, 2018)
Teoria del Controllo ( Let's Talk A Conversation on ERC & Research (English, 2017)
  LaDigitalTech  Robots souples et mains de robots : à la recherche du mouvement fluide (English, 2017)
Curriculum Vitae ICRA-X The Quest for Natural Machine Motion  (English, 2017)
  TED-X L'Intelligenza della Mano (Italiano, 2012)


Curriculum Vitae

Publication List

Google Scholar Page
MS Academic Research



Robotics Haptics Automatic Control


SOFTHANDS "A Theory of Soft Synergies for a New Generation of Artificial Hands'' [2011--2016] European Research Council Advanced Grant ERC-291166

SOFTPRO "Synergy-based Open-source Foundations and Technologies for Prosthetics and RehabilitatiOn'' [2016-2020] Horizon 2020 2015.ICT.24a, Coordinator.

MIMICS "Electromyography-driven musculoskeletal modelling for biomimetic myoelectric control of prostheses with variable stiffness actuators'' [2017-2019] H2020-MSCA-IF-2016 (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships), Coordinator.
SOFTHAND-PRO H ``A Soft Synergy-based Hand Prosthesis with   Hybrid Control'' [2016-2018] European Research Council Proof-of-Concept Grant. Coordinator.

SOMA "Soft-bodied Intelligence for Manipulation''[2015--2019] EC H2020 ICT.23.2014

SSBAHPA "Soft Synergy-Based Artificial Hand for Prosthetic Applications'' [2014-2016] National Institute of Health (NIH) R21 Grant 1R21HD081938-01

ASHP ``Applications of Soft-Hands as Prostheses'' [2014-2016] Mayo Clinic Private Grant

WALK-MAN "Whole-body Adaptive Locomotion and Manipulation'' [2013-2017] EC FP7-ICT-2013-10

WEARHAP "WEARable HAPtics   for humans and robots'' [2013-2017] EC FP7-ICT-2011-9

SAPHARI "Safe and Autonomous Physical Human-Aware Robot Interaction'' [2011-2015] EC FP7 IP ICT-287513

THE "The Hand Embodied'', [2010--2014] EC FP7, Coordinator

VIACTORS "Variable Impedance Actuation Systems Embodying Advanced Interaction Behaviors'' [2009--2012] EC FP7 project
CHAT "Control of Heterogeneous Automation Systems: Technologies for scalability, reconfigurability and security'' [2008--2011] EC FP7 project. Cordinator.

PHRIENDS "Physical Human-Robot Interaction: Dependability and Safety'' [2006--2009] EC FP6. Cordinator.



Selected Publications

For a complete list of publications, please follow this link

Some representative publications:

  • Della Santina, Bianchi, M., Grioli, G., Angelini, F., Catalano, M. G., Garabini, M., and Bicchi, A., “Controlling Soft Robots: Balancing Feedback and Feedforward Elements “, IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, vol. 24-3, pp. 75-83, 2017. DOI: 10.1109/MRA.2016.2636360
  • Della Santina, Piazza, C., Gasparri, G. M., Bonilla, M., Catalano, M. G., Grioli, G., Garabini, M., and Bicchi, A., “The Quest for Natural Machine Motion: An Open Platform to Fast-Prototyping Articulated Soft Robots”, IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 48 - 56, 2017. DOI: 10.1109/MRA.2016.2636366
  • Moscatelli, Bianchi, M., Serio, A., Terekhov, A., Hayward, V., Ernst, M., and Bicchi, A., “The Change in Fingertip Contact Area as a Novel Proprioceptive Cue”, Current Biology, vol. 26, no. 9, pp. 1159-1163, 2016.
  • Leo, Handjaras, G., Bianchi, M., Marino, H., Gabiccini, M., Guidi, A., Scilingo, E. P., Pietrini, P., Bicchi, A., Santello, M., and Ricciardi, E., “A synergy-based hand control is encoded in human motor cortical areas”, eLIFE, Feb 15;5 2016. doi: 10.7554/eLife.13420.
  • Santello, Bianchi, M., Gabiccini, M., Ricciardi, E., Salvietti, G., Prattichizzo, D., Ernst, M., Moscatelli, A., Jorntell, H., Kappers, A., Kyriakopulos, K., Albu-Schaeffer, A., Castellini, C., and Bicchi, A., “Hand synergies: Integration of robotics and neuroscience for understanding the control of biological and artificial hands”, Physics of Life Reviews, vol. 17, pp. 1-23, 2016.
  • Battaglia, Bianchi, M., Altobelli, A., Grioli, G., Catalano, M. G., Serio, A., Santello, M., and Bicchi, A., “ThimbleSense: a fingertip-wearable tactile sensor for grasp analysis”, IEEE Transactions on Haptics, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 121-133, 2016.
  • Grioli, Wolf, S., Garabini, M., Catalano, M. G., Burdet, E., Caldwell, D. G., Carloni, R., Friedl, W., Grebenstein, M., Laffranchi, M., Lefeber, D., Stramigioli, S., Tsagarakis, N. G., Damme, V. M., Vanderborght, B., Albu-Schaeffer, A., and Bicchi, A., “Variable Stiffness Actuators: the user’s point of view”, Int. J. Robotics Research, vol. 34, no. 6, pp. 727-743, 2015.
  • G. Catalano, Grioli, G., Farnioli, E., Serio, A., Piazza, C., and Bicchi, A., “Adaptive Synergies for the Design and Control of the Pisa/IIT SoftHand”, International Journal of Robotics Research, vol. 33, no. 5, pp. 768-782, 2014.
  • Ajoudani, Godfrey, S. B., Catalano, M. G., Bianchi, M., Grioli, G., Tsagarakis, N. G., and Bicchi, A., “Exploring Teleimpedance and Tactile Feedback for Intuitive Control of the Pisa/IIT SoftHand”, IEEE Transactions on Haptics, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 203 - 215, 2014.
  • Bicchi, E. P. Scilingo, E. Ricciardi, and P. Pietrini. Tactile Flow explains haptic counterparts of common visual illusions. Brain Res Bull., 75(6):737-741, 2008
  • A. Ajoudani, Tsagarakis, N. G., and Bicchi, A., “Choosing Poses for Force and Stiffness Control”, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, 2017.
  • A. Cristofaro, Salaris, P., Pallottino, L., Giannoni, F., and Bicchi, A., “On the Minimum-Time Control Problem for Differential Drive Robots with Bearing Constraints”, Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications, pp. 1-27, 2017.
  • A. Fagiolini, Dubbini, N., Martini, S., and Bicchi, A., “Convergence Analysis of Distributed Set-Valued Information Systems”, IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, vol. 61, no. 6, pp. 1477 - 1491, 2016.

Encyclopaedic and Handbook Entries

  • Bicchi: “Teoria del Controllo" (“Control Theory"), Enciclopedia Italiana “Treccani", 2007;
  • Bicchi, E. Colgate, M. Peshkin: “Safety of Physical Human Robot Interaction, Springer Handbook of Robotics, 2008 (AAP Award for Excellence in Physical Sciences and Mathematics);
  • Albu Schaeffer, A. Bicchi: “Novel Actuators for Soft Robotics”, Springer Handbook of Robotics, 2016.





2018 ``IEEE RAS George Saridis Leadership Award in Robotics and   Automation.'' Citation: For his leadership in the robotics and   automation community through research innovation, technology   transfer, education and professional development.

 2017 “Award for Excellence” for top 10 most cited papers since   first publication of the Elsevier Mechanism and Machine Theory   Journal for ``An atlas of physical human–robot interaction'' Volume   43, Issue 3, March 2008, Pages 253-270, by A. De Santis, B. Siciliano, A. De Luca, A. Bicchi

 2017 IEEE Int.l Conf. on Advanced Intelligent   Mechatronics (AIM'17)er Award (finalist): ``Design and   Characterization of a Novel High-Compliance Spring for Robots with   Soft Joints'' F. egrello, M.  Catalano, M.arabini, M. Poggiani, D. G. Caldwell, N. Tsagarakis, A. Bicchi.

 2017 IEEE Worldhaptics Conference 2017. Best Paper Award   (finalist): ``Tactile Slip and Hand Displacement: Bending Hand   Motion with Tactile Illusions'', M. Bianchi, A. Moscatelli,   S. Ciotti, G.C. Bettelani, F. Fioretti, F. Lacquaniti, and A. Bicchi.

 2017 IEEE Worldhaptics Conference 2017. Best Paper Award and   Best Student Paper Award (finalist): ``The Rice Haptic Rocker: skin   stretch haptic feedback with the Pisa/IIT SoftHand'', E. Battaglia, J. Clark, M. Bianchi, M. Catalano, A. Bicchi, and M. O'Malley

2017 ICUMT2017, Best Paper Award (Robotics) and Best Student Paper Award (General)

 2016 Haptics Symposium 2016 Best Paper Award: ''A Wearable   Fabric-based Display for Haptic Multi-Cue Delivery'', M. Bianchi, E. Battaglia, M. Poggiani, S. Ciotti, A. Bicchi.

 2015 Humanoids 2015 Best Interactive Paper Award:   ``Dexterity augmentation on a synergistic hand: the Pisa/IIT   SoftHand+'', C. Della Santina, G. Grioli, M. Catalano, A. Brando,   and A. Bicchi;

2015 Humanoids 2015 Best Interactive Paper Award:   ``Dexterity augmentation on a synergistic hand: the Pisa/IIT   SoftHand+'', C. Della Santina, G. Grioli, M. Catalano, A. Brando,   and A. Bicchi;

2015 Two of Top Ten Cited papers, Robotics and Autonomous Systems  

2014 EuroHaptics 2014 Best Poster Award: `` A change in the   fingertip contact area induces an illusory displacement of the   finger'', A. Moscatelli, M. Bianchi, A. Serio, O. Al Atassi,   S. Fani, A. Terekhov, V. Hayward, M. Ernst and A. Bicchi

2013 Top Ten Best Research Papers, IEEE Transaction on   Intelligent Transportation Systems

2012--2017 Awarded an ERC Advanced Grant for the individual research   program ``SoftHands'';

2013 IEEE Int. Conf. Robotics and Automation 2013 Best Paper   Award (finalist): ``A real--time robust observer for an   agonist--antagonist variable stiffness actuator'', T. Menard,   G. Grioli, and A. Bicchi;

2012 Humanoids 2012 Best Paper Award for paper “Adaptive Synergies for a Humanoid Robot Hand”, by G. Grioli, M. Catalano, C. Piazza, A. Serio, E. Farnioli, and A. Bicchi;

2012 JTCF Novel Technology Best Paper Award in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) 2012, for paper “Synergy-based optimal design of hand pose sensing”, by M. Bianchi, P. Salaris, and A. Bicchi;

2 2012 IROS Jubilee Best Video Award, “Variable Impedance Actuators: Moving the Robots of Tomorrow”, by B. Vanderborght, A. Albu-Schaeffer, A. Bicchi, et al.;

2012 Awarded an ERC Advanced Grant for the individual research program “SoftHands”;

2012 Finalist, ICRA’12 Best Manipulation Paper Award for paper “Tele-Impedance: Towards Transferring Human Impedance Regulation Skills to Robots”, by A. Ajoudani, N. Tsagarakis, and A. Bicchi;

2010 Finalist, Haptics Symposium 2010 Best Paper Award, for paper “A new fabric-based softness display” by M. Bianchi, A. Serio, E. P. Scilingo, and A. Bicchi;

2009 Fumio Harashima Best Paper Award in Emerging Technologies, IEEE Industrial Elec- tronics Society (IES), 14th IEEE International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation, for paper “Designing Real-Time Embedded Controllers using the Anytime Computing Paradigm” by A. Quagli, D.Fontanelli, L. Greco, L. Palopoli, and A. Bicchi;

2009 General Chairs’ Recognition Award for Interactive Papers for the paper “On the Security of Linear Distributed Iterations”, by F. Pasqualetti, A. Bicchi, and F. Bullo, IEEE Intl. Conf. on Decision and Control;

2009 AAP Award for Excellence in Physical Sciences and Mathematics, for Springer Handbook of Robotics, Springer Science and Business Media, Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division, Association of American Publishers, Inc.;

2008 KUKA Service Robotics Best Paper Award, IEEE Int. Conf. Robotics and Automation, ICRA’08, Pasadena, USA;

2007 Author of the entry for “Controllo, Teoria del” (“Control Theory”) for the Enciclopedia Italiana “Treccani”, the most prestigious encyclopaedia in Italy;

2005 IEEE Fellow “for contributions to automatic control of mechanisms and robots; ” 2005 Best Manipulation Paper Award, IEEE Int. Conf. Robotics and Automation, ICRA’05, Barcelona, Es.;


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I numeri di IIT

L’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) è una fondazione di diritto privato - cfr. determinazione Corte dei Conti 23/2015 “IIT è una fondazione da inquadrare fra gli organismi di diritto pubblico con la scelta di un modello di organizzazione di diritto privato per rispondere all’esigenza di assicurare procedure più snelle nella selezione non solo nell’ambito nazionale dei collaboratori, scienziati e ricercatori ”.

IIT è sotto la vigilanza del Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca e del Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze ed è stato istituito con la Legge 326/2003. La Fondazione ha l'obiettivo di promuovere l'eccellenza nella ricerca di base e in quella applicata e di favorire lo sviluppo del sistema economico nazionale. La costruzione dei laboratori iniziata nel 2006 si è conclusa nel 2009.

Lo staff complessivo di IIT conta circa 1440 persone. L’area scientifica è rappresentata da circa l’85% del personale. Il 45% dei ricercatori proviene dall’estero: di questi, il 29% è costituito da stranieri provenienti da oltre 50 Paesi e il 16% da italiani rientrati. Oggi il personale scientifico è composto da circa 60 principal investigators, circa 110 ricercatori e tecnologi di staff, circa 350 post doc, circa 500 studenti di dottorato e borsisti, circa 130 tecnici. Oltre 330 posti su 1400 creati su fondi esterni. Età media 34 anni. 41% donne / 59 % uomini.

Nel 2015 IIT ha ricevuto finanziamenti pubblici per circa 96 milioni di euro (80% del budget), conseguendo fondi esterni per 22 milioni di euro (20% budget) provenienti da 18 progetti europei17 finanziamenti da istituzioni nazionali e internazionali, circa 60 progetti industriali

La produzione di IIT ad oggi vanta circa 6990 pubblicazioni, oltre 130 finanziamenti Europei e 11 ERC, più di 350 domande di brevetto attive, oltre 12 start up costituite e altrettante in fase di lancio. Dal 2009 l’attività scientifica è stata ulteriormente rafforzata con la creazione di dieci centri di ricerca nel territorio nazionale (a Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) e internazionale (MIT ed Harvard negli USA) che, unitamente al Laboratorio Centrale di Genova, sviluppano i programmi di ricerca del piano scientifico 2015-2017.

IIT: the numbers

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) is a public research institute that adopts the organizational model of a private law foundation. IIT is overseen by Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca and Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze (the Italian Ministries of Education, Economy and Finance).  The Institute was set up according to Italian law 326/2003 with the objective of promoting excellence in basic and applied research andfostering Italy’s economic development. Construction of the Laboratories started in 2006 and finished in 2009.

IIT has an overall staff of about 1,440 people. The scientific staff covers about 85% of the total. Out of 45% of researchers coming from abroad 29% are foreigners coming from more than 50 countries and 16% are returned Italians. The scientific staff currently consists of approximately 60 Principal Investigators110 researchers and technologists350 post-docs and 500 PhD students and grant holders and 130 technicians. External funding has allowed the creation of more than 330 positions . The average age is 34 and the gender balance proportion  is 41% female against 59% male.

In 2015 IIT received 96 million euros in public funding (accounting for 80% of its budget) and obtained 22 million euros in external funding (accounting for 20% of its budget). External funding comes from 18 European Projects, other 17 national and international competitive projects and approximately 60 industrial projects.

So far IIT accounts for: about 6990 publications, more than 130 European grants and 11 ERC grants, more than 350 patents or patent applications12 up start-ups and as many  which are about to be launched. The Institute’s scientific activity has been further strengthened since 2009 with the establishment of 11 research nodes throughout Italy (Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) and abroad (MIT and Harvard University, USA), which, along with the Genoa-based Central Lab, implement the research programs included in the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.