I am passionate about human neuromechanics and motor control. In particular, I am interested in understanding how the morphology of the human body facilitates the control action of the nervous system, and how to implement this knowledge into muscle driven models of human locomotion.
I completed my B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano, and then went on to do my M.Sc. in Biomechanical Design at TU Delft. For my thesis, I designed an algorithm to control a lower limb exoskeleton through the arm swing, in collaboration with the Biomechanics group at the University of Twente. Currently, I am working to design a muscle-driven model of human running, a joint project with the Motor Control Modelling group, which is led by Daniel Häufle at The Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen.
In my free time, I enjoy cooking, practising sports and playing games, especially while sharing a refreshing beer or energising cup of coffee with friends. Feel free to contact me by email for anything related to my studies (or not).
Locomotion Human neuromuscular control Computational neuroscience Biomechanics
Damping likely plays an essential role in legged animal locomotion, but remains an insufficiently understood mechanism. Intrinsic damping muscle forces can potentially add to the joint torque output during unexpected impacts, stabilise movements, convert the system’s energy, and reject unexpected perturbations.
Muscle models and animal observations suggest that physical damping is beneficial for stabilization. Still, only a few implementations of mechanical damping exist in compliant robotic legged locomotion. It remains unclear how physical damping can be exploited for locomotion tasks, while its advantages as sensor-free, adaptive force- and negative work-producing actuators are promising. In a simplified numerical leg model, we studied the energy dissipation from viscous and Coulomb damping during vertical drops with ground-level perturbations. A parallel spring-damper is engaged between touch-down and mid-stance, and its damper auto-disengages during mid-stance and takeoff. Our simulations indicate that an adjustable and viscous damper is desired. In hardware we explored effective viscous damping and adjustability and quantified the dissipated energy. We tested two mechanical, leg-mounted damping mechanisms; a commercial hydraulic damper, and a custom-made pneumatic damper. The pneumatic damper exploits a rolling diaphragm with an adjustable orifice, minimizing Coulomb damping effects while permitting adjustable resistance. Experimental results show that the leg-mounted, hydraulic damper exhibits the most effective viscous damping. Adjusting the orifice setting did not result in substantial changes of dissipated energy per drop, unlike adjusting damping parameters in the numerical model. Consequently, we also emphasize the importance of characterizing physical dampers during real legged impacts to evaluate their effectiveness for compliant legged locomotion.
Our goal is to understand the principles of Perception, Action and Learning in autonomous systems that successfully interact with complex environments and to use this understanding to design future systems