Research

I am a Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow, awarded with an Individual Fellowship by the EU-H2020 Research and Innovation programme (“Predictive Robots”, call 2018, read more about it here). I am currently affiliated with the BioRobotics Institute of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Pisa, Italy), where my project is hosted in the lab of Prof. Cecilia Laschi.

I was previously affiliated with the Adaptive Systems Group headed by Prof. Verena V. Hafner at the Computer Science Department of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. I carried out my PhD studies with another Marie Curie fellowship (I was appointed as Early Stage Researcher within the EU-FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network INTRO) at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany, and at the Umeå University, Sweden. My background is on Computer Engineering (Università degli Studi di Palermo, Italy; ETSIIT, Universidad de Granada, Spain).

I investigate learning behaviours for robots inspired on infant development with the aim of making artificial systems more autonomous and adaptive. I study computational models inspired on human brain mechanisms, such as the formation and maintenance of internal body representations [12] and predictive processes, and implement them into robots. I adopt different machine learning techniques for implementing these models, including self-organising neural networks and deep convolutional neural networks. I am particularly interested in online learning techniques.

I study mechanisms of anticipation of sensory and motor information for the implementation of basic cognitive skills in artificial agents. I found out that such processes can have an important role in capabilities like behaviour recognition and arbitration, tool-use and intelligent exploration behaviours driven by artificial curiosity. Moreover, my research on predictive and sensory attenuation processes aims at providing insights in the understanding of subjective experiences typical of humans, such as self-awareness, self-other distinctionsense of agency and sense of object permanence, and in the possibility of implementing an artificial Self into robots.

I apply these mechanisms into different robotic platforms, such as humanoid robots, mobile platforms, micro-farming robots and underwater and marine drones (which I design and develop, see here for more details).

I have been involved in different European and German projects, including EU-FP7 Marie Curie ITN INTRO (Interactive Robotics), EU-FP7 EARS (Embodied Audition for Robots), EU-H2020 ROMI (Robotics for microfarms), DFG SPP The Active Self, EU-H2020 MSC IF Predictive Robots.

I am currently editing a book on “Self and Sense of Agency in Artificial Systems”. I am editor of a Research Topic on Re-enacting sensorimotor experience for cognition, in collaboration with Frontiers in Robotics and AI, Specialty Section: Humanoid Robotics.

I am a member of IEEE and EUCognition.

Projects

I have been granted with a EU-H2020 Marie Sklodowska Curie Individual Fellowship, currently running at the BioRobotics Institute of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy.

I am involved in the EU-H2020 project on Robotics for Microfarms, ROMI, and in the “Prerequisites for an artificial Self” project funded by the German Priority Programme DFG SPP “The Active Self”.

Previous projects

Post-doc researcher in EU-FP7 project on Embodied Audition for RobotS, EARS. Ended in 2016.

EU-FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) on INTeractive RObotics, INTRO, where I was appointed as an Early Stage Researcher. Ended in 2014.

Exploration Behaviour in Humans and Robots, funded by MatNat II, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Ended in 2015.