Grant Appointed Senior Researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology

December 23, 2010

Dr. Edward Grant
Dr. Edward Grant

Dr. Edward Grant, a Professor in the ECE and BME Departments, and Director of the Center for Robotics and Intelligent Machines (CRIM) was recently appointed a Senior Researcher in the Department of Advanced Robotics (ARD) at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), in Genoa, Italy. The original invitation came from Dr. Darwin Caldwell, the internationally known robotics practitioner, who is currently the Director of the ARD. Recently, Dr. Grant visited to the IIT and taught an advanced robotics course to a group of graduate students at the IIT. All of the students who took Dr. Grant's robotics course are registered for a higher degree at the University of Genoa. Dr. Grant held many research related meetings within the ARD, both with research teams and with individuals pursuing Ph.D. degrees.

In terms of research collaboration Dr. Grant and Dr. Leonardo Mattos (Ph.D., 2008) met with all the surgeons in the Otolaryngology Department in the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Genoa. Along with Dr. Massimo Dellepiane; Dr. Grant and Dr. Mattos conducted a medical robotic experiment related to laser surgery. The three researchers are currently finalizing a joint collaborative research proposal between NC State and the IIT. Their proposal is related to medical robotics and laser throat surgery and is being submitted under a joint Italy/U.S.A. research collaboration program.

Research within the ARD at the IIT concentrates on an innovative, multidisciplinary approach to humanoid design and control, and the development of novel robotic components and technologies. This encompasses activities from both the hard (mechanical/ electrical design and fabrication, sensor systems, actuation development etc.) and soft (control, computer software, human factors etc) systems areas of robotics.

Within the ARD the research activities are arranged in terms of: (1) core scientific/technological research aimed at providing fundamental competences needed to develop robotic and humanoid technology, and (2) advanced research demonstrators that provided large focused research projects that integrate the core sciences. Within the scientific research there are activities based on: (1) Humanoids, (2) Actuation and Power Systems, (3) Mechanisms and Sensors, (4) Medical Robots, (5) Haptic, and Interaction Technologies, and (6) Locomotion.

While mimicking biological principles does not necessarily lead to the development of optimal systems it is believed that the merging of multiple, diverse technologies will facilitate a transition from traditional (hard-bodied) robots towards a new generation of hybrid systems combining engineering principles such as speed, robustness, accuracy, and endurance with biologically inspired concepts that aim to emulate the 'softer' compliant structure of muscle, bone, tendons and skin to provide robots with the capacity for self-repair, regeneration, redundancy etc..

The IIT is a foundation established jointly by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research and the Ministry of Economy and Finance to promote excellence in basic and applied research and to contribute to the economic development of Italy. The IIT is based on the German Fraunhofer Institute model. The primary goals of the IIT are the creation and dissemination of scientific knowledge as well as the strengthening of Italy's technological competitiveness. To achieve these two goals, the IIT cooperates with both academic institutions and private organizations, fostering through these partnerships scientific development, technological advances and training in high technology. Currently the IIT has eight sites in Italy; many of these sites have robotics related research activities.

The IIT Scientific Plan for 2009-2011 aims at developing the results of the start-up and sets a general framework which combines the integration and the reinforcement of the departments, the national network and the research platforms.

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