Hello,

I am Cosimo Della Santina (Della Santina is the surname!). I am Assistant Professor at CoR department, TU Delft. I am also a researcher at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), in Munich, Germany. To discuss opportunities, collaborations, and research (yours, mine, or someone else's) the easiest is to send an email (see below).

Research

The ultimate goal of my group’s research is to endow physical systems (e.g., robots) with the motor intelligence necessary to generate robust and precise goal-directed movements.

Developing animal-level motor intelligence requires a complete change of perspective that entails a unique blend of advancements in mechanical design, control theory, modeling, and machine learning. On a more technical level, my group and I like to work on those challenges that require factoring in the nonlinear dynamics of the physical system to solve motor tasks.

We spend most of our time on
- (Model based) control of soft robots
- Discovering and embodying oscillatory physical intelligence
- Combining models and data for motor intelligence in mechanical systems
- Intelligent robotic hands and manipulation
- Manipulation of deformable objects
- Articulated soft quadupeds

And much other cool stuff. Our interests in the intelligence of mechanical systems include exoskeletons, flexible link robots, human body dynamics, and more standard rigid systems. Beyond that, we look at motor intelligence in physical systems ranging from fluids to epidemic spreading on social networks.

Many solutions that we propose are in the realm of soft robotics. These are innovative robotic systems inspired by the animal body to present intelligent behaviors already at the mechanical level. Find HERE a general definition of soft robots, and HERE an introduction to model-based control of soft robots.

Theses, internships, and
other visiting opportunities

I am always open to discuss about supervising students and hosting visiting researchers. You can send me an email (see homepage) and we can discuss about possible opportunities.

We often have Internships and MSc theses available at TU Delft and DLR (German Aerospace Center). We also have (limited!) internships and MSc theses at companies, and we can arrange a (limited!) number of MSc theses abroad with EPFL, U Washington, Khalifa University, MIT, Italian Institute of Technology, TU Munich, UCL, University of Oxford, ...

Rules of Engagement

When you contact me, please
- Include as an attachment the list of your exams with grades and your CV,
- let me know if you are a theoretical-minded person or if you are good with your hands,
- if available, provide examples of previous projects proving your skills in one direction or the other,
- use some informative subject something like "Application for MSc Thesis @ TU Delft", or "Application for Internship @ DLR", or ...
- state a preferred starting date,
- extra general information on your background and your interests is also welcomed.

Topics

Topics for internships and MSc theses relate all the topics listed in the research page.Open theses at TU Delft include but are not limited to:
- Geometric (Deep) Learning, algorithms or applications, more info here,
- Iterative Learning Control,
- Intelligent Control Algorithms (i.e., combining machine learning with control theory),
- Deep (Reinforcement) Learning for Grasping, and Manipulation,
- Aerial soft manipulation (co-supervisor: Salua Hamaza from aerospace)
- Learning dynamic locomotion (co-supervisor: Jens Kober),
- Soft exo-suit, design control and learning (Co-supervisor: Sagar Joshi and Ajay Seth), more info here,
- Design of a robotic elephant trunk,
- ...
Opportunities at DLR are about space robotics, and specifically nonlinear oscillations, robot locomotion, control of rigid robots, full body manipulation, and soft robotics.

Bio

Find my CV HERE.

I was born in Pontedera, Italy, on the 6th of October 1989. I hold a BSc in Computer Engineering and a MSc in Robotics from the University of Pisa. I was a Ph.D. student at the University of Pisa and IIT, a visiting researcher and postdoc at MIT-CSAIL, and a senior postdoc and later a lecturer at TUM. I am now Assistant Professor at TU Delft (CoR, 3mE), and a researcher at the German Aerospace Center (DLR).I am PI for TU Delft of the European Projects Natural Intelligence and EMERGE, and involved in a number of Dutch projects.

Open Positions

You are welcome to contact me if you would like to discuss support for applications to Ph.D. or postdoctoral Fellowships via external funding sources (e.g., Marie-Curie). Please send a copy of your CV and a summary of your research interests.I will soon open 2 Ph.D. positions in Deep Learning with Dynamical System Priors, Intelligent control of mechanical systems, Control of Soft Robots.

PhD on Data-driven control of gas bubble drag reduction in liquid wall-bounded flows

In this Ph.D. project, you will combine experimental fluid dynamics, control theory, and machine learning. you will work on developing state-of-the-art data-driven models for reduced-order modeling of such flows, which will enable successful closed-loop control of your design. To achieve this ambitious goal, you will exploit various flow measurement techniques (including particle image velocimetry and pressure and drag measurements) to ensure optimal data collection and representation of different flow states.As a Ph.D. student, you will be part of two vibrant teams of researchers within the Multiphase Systems (MS) and Learning for Autonomous Control (LAC) sections, with diverse backgrounds and expertise. Your supervisors will be Dr. Angeliki Laskari and Dr. Cosimo Della Santina within the Process & Energy and Cognitive Robotics Departments.More information can be found here.

Group

PostDocs

- Sagar Joshi, working on soft exoskeletons. Co-supervised with Ajay Seth.
- Jiatao Ding, working on quadrupedal locomotion. Co-supervised with Jens Kober.

PhD students

- Maximilian Stölzle, working on combining machine learning and model-based strategies for controlling soft robots.
- Tomás Coleman, working on bimanual manipulation of deformable objects with application to agri-food industry. Co-supervised with: Jens Kober, Robert Babuska.
- Francesco Stella (EPFL), working on computational design of articulated and soft robots. Co-supervised with: Josie Hughes.
- Pietro Pustina (La Sapienza), Model based control of soft robots. Co-supervised with: Alessandro De Luca.
- Anton Bredenbeck working on soft aerial systems. Co-supervised with: Saula Hamaza.
- Chuhan Zhang, working on spiking neural networks. Co-supervised with: Wei Pan.
Incoming:
- Giovanni Catalani, working on deep learning for experimental control of multi-phase fluids, co-supervisor: Angeliki Laskari.
- Jingyue Liu, working on interpretable latent spaces for learning dynamics.
Mentoring:
- Davide Calzolari (TUM, DLR), working on nonlinear control of complex mechanical systems, strict modes, and nonlinear modes. Main supervisor: Alin Albu-Schaeffer.
- Arne Sachtler (TUM, DLR), working on combining geometry, machine learning, and nonlinear dynamics in motion control. Main supervisor: Alin Albu-Schaeffer.
Visiting:
- Francesco Piqué (SSSUP), working on data-driven control of soft robots. Main supervisor: Egidio Falotico.

Alumni

- Luis Pablo Borja Rosales, now an assistant professor at the University of Plymouth.
- Padmaja Kulkarni (Ph.D. student), now Data Scientist at Newcraft.
- Mathew Jose Pollayil (visiting Ph.D. student @DLR), now a postdoc at the University of Pisa.
- Kyle Walker (visiting Ph.D. student) now finishing his Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh.
- Xiang-Yu Shao, (visiting Ph.D. student) now finishing his Ph.D. at the Harbin Institute of Technology.

Master Students and Interns

Current Interns:- Vassil Atanassov, "Low level control of the quadruped Go1"
- Ranbao Deng
- Sara Boby, "Simulating a fluid perturbed by a soft element"
- Wesley Lagerweij, "Building a soft robot that can swim in a tank"
- Edoardo Panichi (@DLR), "Advancing the toolbox nEigenmodes (nonlinear oscillations in complex mechanical systems)"
Current MSc students (at and from TU Delft if not differently specified):- Nidhin Sugunan, "Robust MPC for Soft Robots." Co-supervised with Azita Dabiri.
- Ario Maleeq, "A sensorized soft foot for intelligent quadrupeds." Co-Supervised with Michael Wiertlewski.
- Eveline Drijver (at the company BluePrint Automation), MSc, "Reactive Optimal Scheduling for Packeging Tasks." Daily supervisors: Rodrigo Perez Dattari and Zlatan Ajanovic.
- Georgios Apostolides "Learning effective locomotion in articulated soft quadrupeds" Co-supervised with Jens Kober.
- Francesco Vezzi (from the University of Pisa) "Learning explosive jumping with Reinforcement Learning" Co-supervised with Jens Kober, Antonin Raffin, and Antonio Bicchi.
- Maxime Croft "Graph Neural Network for predictive management of pandemics."
- Mees van Löben Sels "ILC for compliant yet precise locomotion."
- Milan Akim (from TU Munich), MSc@DLR, "Visual servoing with a soft robotic neck." Co-Supervised with Bastian Deutschmann.
- Emilio Tavia y Cabrera "Passivity-based Control of Soft Robots." Daily supervisor: Pablo Borja.
- Fernão Bracelly "Non-prehensile manipulation with quadrupeds." Main supervisor: Joris Sijs
- Ghanishtha Bhatti "Model-based control of soft robots."

Past students:
- Jens Zuurbier (at the company Aris), "Autonomous picking of tomato trusses." Main supervisors: Robert Babuska, and Tomas Coleman.
- Marco Lepri (from University of Pisa), "Deep compression of high-dimensional mechanical systems." Co-Supervised with Davide Bacciu. A paper is under production.
- Thom Konijnenberg (at the company Keygene), "Handling plant cultures in Petri dishes."
- Jingyue Liu "Learning soft robots' dynamics with Lagrangian priors." Co-supervised with Pablo Borja. A paper is under production.
- Rick Elfferich, "Design of a Soft Gripper for Harvesting Small Fruits." Co-supervised with Dimitra Dodou. This thesis yielded this journal publication.
- Sjoerd Drost (at the company Moba), "Handling eggs with a flexible arm." Co-Supervised with Gerwin Smit. This thesis yielded a conference publication currently under review.
- Lucas Novak Ribeiro (from TU Munich), MSc@DLR, "Model-based control of a tendon-driven soft robot." Co-Supervised with Bastian Deutschmann.
- Grace Lee, "Synergy-based teleopration of the SoftHand 2."
- Willem Heeringa, MSc, "Sensorized grippers optimized for fast pick and place." Co-Supervised with: Gerwin Smit.
- Pietro Pustina (from the Sapienza University of Rome), "Gravity compensation in underactuated models of continuum soft robots," Co-Supervised with Prof. Alessandro De Luca. This thesis yielded this journal publication.
- Lars Besselaar, "Manipulation of Soft Objects." This thesis yielded this conference publication.
- Markus Wagner (from TU Munich), MSc@DLR, "Dynamic Locomotion of the Quadruped Bert using DCM Framework." Co-Supervised with: Dr. Johannes Englsberger, George Mesesan, Prof. Alin Albu-Scheffer.
- Luigi Bono Bonacchi (from Politecnico di Milano), MSc@DLR, "Repetitive control for efficient pick and place motions." Co-Supervised with: Dr. Maximo Roa. This thesis yielded this journal publication.
- Yannik Wotte (from UTwente), Internship@DLR, "Numerical Evaluation of Nonlinear Modes in Multi-Body Systems." Co-Supervised with: Arne Sachtler. This internship yielded a journal publication currently under review.
- Francesco Stella, "Stiffness control in Soft Robotics." This thesis yielded a journal publication currently under review.
- Emanuele Rosi (from UniGenova), "Soft Robotic Proprioception through Vision and Models.'' This thesis yielded this conference publication.
- Filip Bjelonic (from TUD), Internship@DLR, "Numerical Evaluation of Nonlinear Modes in Multi-Body Systems." Co-Supervised with: Arne Sachtler. This internship yielded this journal publication.
- ...