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. The easiest way to discuss opportunities, collaborations, and research (yours, mine, or someone else's) is to send an email (see below).My room at TU Delft is 34.F-2-320, 3mE building.


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 for internships and MSc theses relate all the topics listed in the research page.Opportunities at DLR are about space robotics, and specifically nonlinear oscillations, robot locomotion, control of rigid robots, full body manipulation, and soft robotics.


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, Mechanical Engineering), and a researcher at the German Aerospace Center (DLR).I have been awarded the 2020 Georges Giralt Ph.D. Award and the 2023 IEEE RAS Early Career Award.I am PI for a bunch of European and Dutch Projects, including Natural Intelligence, EMERGE, and one of the subprojects of the Agrifood NxtgenHightech. I am co-director of the Delft AI lab SELF.

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 have 1 open postdoc position in model-based control of deformable objects. See here for more information.



- Jiatao Ding, working on quadrupedal locomotion. Co-supervised with Jens Kober.
- Rodrigo Pérez-Dattari Co-supervised with Jens Kober and Robert Babuska
- Giovanni Franzese Co-supervised with Jens Kober and Robert Babuska
- Kirsten Lussenburg, working on the design of a soft breast pump, Co-supervised with Aimée Sakes
- Ebrahim Shahabi, working on innovative designs for mechanically intelligent soft robots

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: Salua Hamaza.
- Chuhan Zhang, working on spiking neural networks. Co-supervised with: Wei Pan.
- Jingyue Liu, working on interpretable latent spaces for learning dynamics.
- Zhaoting Li Main supervisor: Jens Kober. Co-supervised with Robert Babuska.
- Mariano Ramirez Montero
- 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.
- Giulio Evangelisti (TUM), working on physics informed learning of dynamical systems. Main supervisor: Alin Albu-Schaeffer.
- Sonal Baberwal, Dublin City University, Working on BMI
- Domenico Dona


- Luis Pablo Borja Rosales, now an assistant professor at the University of Plymouth.
- Sagar Joshi, now Mechatronics System Designer at VDL.
- Padmaja Kulkarni (Ph.D. student), now Data Scientist at Newcraft.
- Mathew Jose Pollayil (visiting Ph.D. student @DLR), now a Robotics Engineer at YK-Robotics.
- Kyle Walker (visiting Ph.D. student), now Research Engineer at the Robotarium of Edinburgh.
- Xiang-Yu Shao (visiting Ph.D. student), now Assistant Professor at the Harbin Institute of Technology.
- Francesco Piqué (visiting Ph.D. student), now doing a postdoc at SSSUP.
- Michele Pierallini (visiting Ph.D.), now finishing his PhD at the University of Pisa.

Master Students and Interns

Current Research Interns:Current MSc students (at and from TU Delft if not differently specified):- Ghanishtha Bhatti "Model-based control of soft robots." Daily supervisor: Pietro
- Edoardo Panichi "Jump and landing on uneven terrains with an articulated soft quadruped." Daily supervisor: Jiatao
- Gioele Buriani "Learning low dimensional continuous approximations of high dimensional hybrid systems." Daily supervisor: Jingyue
- Sara Boby, "Learning-based control of particles suspended in a fluid through a soft tentacle." Co-supervised with: Angeliki Laskari
- Wesley Lagerweij, "Control of a soft robot that can swim in a tank." Daily supervisor: Francesco stella
- Seb Tiburzio, "Bimanual manipulation of deformable object with non-negligible dynamic response." Daily supervisor: Tomás
- Ricardo Valadas, "Combining symbolic regression and physics informed learning for soft robots." Daily supervisors: Maximilian and Jingyue
- Joost van der Heijden (@TUM), "Design of a multi-synergistic robotic hand" Main supervisor: Cristina Piazza.
- Josh Pho (@University of Pisa) "A Soft Articulated quadruped learning to jump" Main supervisors: Franco Angelini, Manolo Garabini.
- Riccardo Sepe (Visiting from PoliTo) "Controlling HSA robots with deep RL." Daily supervisor: Maximilian. External supervisor: Giuseppi Averta.
- Christiaan Wiers (in collaboration with Firefighters Rotterdam) "SLAM in smoky environments for the robot Brutus II"
- Vassil Atanassov, "Deep RL for learning to jump without demonstrations." Daily supervisor: Jiatao.
- Georgios Apostolides "Learning effective locomotion in articulated soft quadrupeds" Co-supervised with Jens Kober. Daily supervisor: Jiatao.- Ario Maleeq, "A sensorized soft foot for intelligent quadrupeds." Co-Supervised with Michael Wiertlewski.Of the following I am external supervisor with minimum involvement
- Sam Bekkers (at DLR) "Visual-inertial SLAM with a lunar rover"
- Giovanni Corvi (at the company Fizyr), "Learning to stack packages via reinforcement learning"
- Jasper van den Berg (at SSSUP), "Intelligent control of a multi-fingered prosthesis"

Past research interns:
- Vassil Atanassov, "Low level control of the quadruped Go1"
- 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)"
Past students:
- Eveline Drijver (at the company BluePrint Automation), "Reactive Optimal Scheduling for Packeging Tasks." Daily supervisors: Rodrigo Perez Dattari and Zlatan Ajanovic.
- Maxime Croft "Graph Neural Network for predictive management of pandemics."
- Mees van Löben Sels "ILC for compliant yet precise locomotion."
- 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
- Francesco Vezzi (from the University of Pisa) "Learning explosive jumping with Reinforcement Learning" Co-supervised with Jens Kober, and Antonio Bicchi. A paper is under production.
- Milan Akim (from TU Munich), MSc@DLR, "Visual servoing with a soft robotic neck." Co-Supervised with Bastian Deutschmann. A paper is under production.
- Jens Zuurbier (at the company Aris), "Autonomous picking of tomato trusses." Main supervisors: Robert Babuska, and Tomas Coleman. A paper is under production.
- 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. Another paper is under production.
- 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.
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