Two PhD Scholarships to pursue research on “Microrobotic system inspired by marine organisms” and “Benthic soft robots inspired by marine organisms” are co-funded by Sant’Anna School BioRobotics Institute and Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn

The two scholarships co-funded by Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn – Naples and the Biorobotics Institute of Sant’Anna School – Pisa, will be available for new PhD students starting their program on October 1, 2017. The scholarships offer opportunities to pursue research topics in "Microbotic system inspired by marine organisms" and "Benthic soft robots inspired by marine organisms".

The primary strategic aim is to enhance the relationship between marine biology and robotics. Students developing underwater robot systems have generally limited access to actual sea deployments so biomimicry represents a source of inspiration for the development of new technologies. The goal of bio-mimetics is to use biological inspiration to engineer machines that emulate the performance of marine organisms.

Research Project 1: Microrobotic system inspired by marine organisms

The aim of this PhD project is to take inspiration from nature and in particular from a Phylum of marine organisms (Annelida) towards the design of high dexterity and high performance microrobots to be employed in different fields, but resulting particularly interesting when foreseeing medical applications. An anatomically simple, high motility organism can represent a valid inspiration towards the dream to develop smart micromachines able to navigate or meander across the body lumina and to perform desired therapeutic tasks directly in the region of interest. Biopsy, microsurgery and targeted drug delivery are just examples of medical procedures that could benefit from the conceived bioinspired design and by high dexterity, despite of the reduced dimensions.

Research Project 2: Benthic soft robots inspired by marine organisms

The aim of this PhD project is to take as a reference a biological model (animals from the phylum of Arthropoda, subphylum Crustacea) to create an innovative underwater soft robots with augmented environment interaction capabilities. Current underwater vehicles and systems (i.e. AUVs, USV, ROVs, gliders, etc.) demonstrate great locomotion capabilities yet their interaction with underwater structures, rocks, and substrates is poorly performed. Recent advancements in the field of soft robotics pushed forward the interaction skills of autonomous systems. By exploiting their compliance, soft robots can safely interact with the seafloor, reefs, underwater structures or other substrates.

The successful candidates will enroll as PhD students in the Biorobotics Institute at Sant’Anna School. Candidates will have excellent academic record and demonstrable skills to conceive original research projects and adopt new analytical technologies.