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Nikhil Deshpande

Research Scientist, Project Co-ordinator - INAIL-Teleoperazione project

Research Line

Advanced Robotics


IIT Central Research Labs Genova


+39 010 2896 805
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I am a Researcher in the Advanced Robotics research line, leading the VICARIOS group, to develop novel, mixed reality user interfaces for advanced robotic teleoperation systems.

I am currently leading the "SISTEMI CIBERNETICI COLLABORATIVI - TELEOPERAZIONE" project, which will create next-generation, collaborative teleoperation systems for intuitive operation in hazard-prone environments and industry. Specifically, the objectives are the development and integration of technologies including: (i) novel hydraulic quadruped field robot; (ii) new dexterous robotic manipulator arm; (iii) novel master hand exoskeleton haptic device; and (iv) new user interaction interfaces with augmented and virtual reality systems. 

My previous research focused on the design and development of robot-assisted surgical tools for microsurgery, particularly, transoral laser microsurgery. The research also involved holistic design, development, and assessment of novel devices and intuitive user interfaces for robot-assisted technologies using GUI software, computer vision techniques, and human factors and usability studies. My research background is in distributed wireless sensing, autonomous navigation, sensor fusion, mechanical design, and user interface development.

Originally from Pune, India, I graduated with a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from the Government College of Engineering (COEP), in 2003. The bug to tinker with robots led me to an applications engineering position with Rockwell Automation India Ltd., in New Delhi, India, which introduced me to the basics of plant automation and industrial robots for manufacturing processes and automobile assembly lines. The curiosity to design robots and improve them got me to pursue graduate studies in USA.

Beginning with my Master’s in Integrated Manufacturing Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University (NCSU) in 2005, I got the opportunity to design and program mobile robots, and work on state-of-the-art technologies including wireless sensor networks. Here, under the guidance of Prof. Steve Jackson, I developed a smart-home automation solution for in-situ wall-moisture sensing using low-power WSNs. Subsequently, I joined the Center for Robotics and Intelligent Machines (CRIM) at NCSU to continue on for my PhD in Electrical Engineering with Prof. Edward Grant. My dissertation was on sensor-network assisted mobile robot navigation. 

In the summer of 2011, I interned at the Robert Bosch Robotics Research Center in California, working manipulator state estimation using low cost sensing technology - accelerometers and gyroscopes. I collaborated with the Stanford Biorobotics group (Prof. Kenneth Salisbury) and adapted my solution for the PR2 robot arm as well as the new low-cost Stanford Arm.


(1) "Sistemi Cibernetici Collaborativi - Teleoperazione" (2017 - 2020),

in collaboration with INAIL ("Istituto Nazionale per l'Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro")

(2) μRALP (2012 - 2014,

European Union Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 – Challenge 2 – Cognitive Systems, Interaction, Robotics

Selected Publications

Journal Publications:

  1. Manish Chauhan, Nikhil Deshpande, Darwin G. Caldwell, Leonardo S. Mattos, "Design and Modeling of a Three-Degree-of-Freedom Articulating Robotic Microsurgical Forceps for Trans-Oral Laser Microsurgery", ASME Journal of Medical Devices, Vol. 13, Iss. 2, 2019, pp. 021006-021006-9.
  2. Nikhil Deshpande, Giorgio Peretti, Francesco Mora, Luca Guastini, Jinoh Lee, Giacinto Barresi, Darwin G. Caldwell, Leonardo S. Mattos, "Design and Study of a Next Generation Computer Assisted System for Transoral Laser Microsurgery", OTO Open, Vol. 2, SAGE Publications Inc., 2018.
  3. Nikhil Deshpande, Jesús Ortiz, Ioannis Sarakoglou, Claudio Semini, Nikos Tsagarakis, Anais Brygo, Jorge Fernandez, Marco Frigerio, Lorenzo Saccares, Stefano Toxiri, and Darwin G. Caldwell, "Next Generation Collaborative Robotic Systems for Industrial Safety and Health", in Safety and Security Engineering VII, C. A. Brebbia, F. Garzia, M. Lombardi (eds.), WIT Transactions on the Built Environment, Vol. 174, 2017, pp. 187-200.
  4. Leonardo S. Mattos, Nikhil Deshpande, Giacinto Barresi, Luca Guastini, and Giorgio Peretti, "A Novel Computerized Surgeon-Machine Interface for Robot-Assisted Laser Phonomicrosurgery", The Laryngoscope, Vol. 124, Iss. 8, DOI: 10.1002/lary.24566, John Wiley & Sons, Aug. 2014, pp. 1887-94.
  5. Nikhil Deshpande, Edward Grant, and Thomas C. Henderson, "Target Localization and Autonomous Navigation using Wireless Sensor Networks  - A Pseudo-Gradient Algorithm Approach", IEEE Systems Journal Special Issue on Sensor Networks for Advanced Localization Systems, Vol. 8, Iss. 1, March 2014, pp. 93-103.
Conference Publications:
  1. Abdeldjallil Naceri, Dario Mazzanti, Joao Bimbo, Domenico Prattichizzo, Darwin G. Caldwell, Leonardo S. Mattos, and Nikhil Deshpande, "Towards a Virtual Reality Interface for Remote Robotic Teleoperation", In Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Advanced Robotics (ICAR 2019), pp. -, Dec 2-6, 2019, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
  2. Nikhil Deshpande, Leonardo S. Mattos, and Darwin G. Caldwell, "New Motorized Micromanipulator for Robot-Assisted Laser Phonomicrosurgery", In Proceedings of 2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2015), pp. 4755-4760, May 26-30, 2015, Seattle, USA. 
  3. Nikhil Deshpande, Edward Grant, Mark Draelos, and Thomas C. Henderson, "Received Signal Strength based Bearing-only Robot Navigation in a Sensor Network field", In Proceedings of 2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2014), pp. 4618-4623, Sept. 14-18, 2014, Chicago, USA.
  4. Nikhil Deshpande, Jesus Ortiz, Darwin G. Caldwell, and Leonardo S. Mattos, "Enhanced Computer-Assisted Laser Microsurgeries with a “Virtual Microscope” based surgical system", In Proceedings of 2014 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2014), pp. 4194-4199 , May 31-Jun 7, 2014, Hong Kong, China.
  5. Nikhil Deshpande, Leonardo S. Mattos, Giacinto Barresi, Andrea Brogni, Giulio Dagnino, Luca Guastini, Giorgio Peretti, Darwin G. Caldwell, "Imaging based Metrics for Performance Assessment in Laser Phonomicrosurgery", In Proceedings of 2013 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2013), pp. 4850 - 4856, May 6-10, 2013, Karlsruhe, Germany.
  6. Philip Roan, Nikhil Deshpande, Yizhou Wang, and Benjamin Pitzer, "Manipulator State Estimation with Low-cost Accelerometers and Gyroscopes",  In Proceedings of 2012 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2012), pp. 4822-4827, Oct. 7-12, 2012, Vilamoura, Portugal.
  7. Nikhil Deshpande, Edward Grant, and Thomas C. Henderson, "Target-directed Navigation using Wireless Sensor Networks and Implicit Surface Interpolation", In Proceedings of 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2012), pp. 457-462, May 14-18, 2012, St. Paul, USA.
  8. Nikhil Deshpande, Edward Grant, and Thomas C. Henderson, "Experiments with a “Pseudo-Gradient” Algorithm for Target Localization Using Wireless Sensor Networks", In Proceedings of 2010 IEEE International Conference on Multisensor Fusion and Integration for Intelligent Systems (MFI 2010), pp. 74-79, Sept. 5-7, 2010, Salt Lake City, USA.



  • Mentored Teaching Assistantship - NCSU - 2011
  • Alumni Graduate Fellowship Award - NCSU - 2005
  • Best Graduate Trainee Award - Rockwell Automation - 2004


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