STORM-BOTS Boot-camp

The third network-wide training activity was organised by Prof Antonio DeSimone and his team. It took place from February 27th to March 2nd, 2023, at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (SSSA), Pisa, and at the BioRobitcs Institute, Pontedera, Italy. The boot-camp was devised for fellows to have a direct impression of the research carried out at this Excellence Centre of BioRobotics in Europe, with an immersion and direct contact with its researchers, allowing the exchange of ideas and scientific discussion between the fellows, supervisors and the BioRobotics Institute and SSSA researchers. The Boot-camp was organised as an onsite network-wide event, but online connection was provided to some sessions, such as the lectures of invited speakers on Day 4, for which attendants could register at

During these days, all the activities initially devised were carried out with the aim for fellows to first-hand train on FEM modelling, present their projects to STORM-BOTS members and external researchers, and immerse in the research carried out at the BioRobotics Institute and the region and engage in valuable scientific discussions and networking. For this, the boot-camp agenda was structured in different parts:

Days 1 and 2 were dedicated to the specialized training on FEM modelling of large deformations, with lectures by Prof Alessandro Lucantonio (Aarhus University, DK), a STORM-BOTS supervisor and expert on the theoretical and computational modelling of multiphysics systems, including polymer and liquid crystal-based materials. The ESRs were first given an introduction to finite element method (FEM) modelling and trained in the use of specialized software for multiphysics modelling such as COMSOL.

Activities of day 3 were divided into two different segments. The morning session was restricted to STORM-BOTS members. It was dedicated to the Projects on the table activity in which the ESRs presented the current state of their projects to the other teams of the network and gave an update on the activities they have been carrying out since their previous presentation in September 2023 and the future perspectives for their projects. Each presentation was followed by a discussion with the network members, helping the fellows to identify bottlenecks and look for solutions, as well as to jointly refine ideas and devise collaborations.

The afternoon session was open to all members of the BioRobotic Institute. It was dedicated to the visit to this research centre, the presentation of the ESRs research work and the feedback and scientific discussion between all the participants. The session started with the visit of STORM-BOTS fellows and members to the BioRobotics Institute and the tour of the different laboratories and research groups. This activity was hosted by Reza Norouzikudiani (ESR-6), who is working at Prof DeSimone’s group at this institution. From this tour, the ESRs learned about recent developments in fields such as wearable and surgical robots, neuro-engineering and soft robotics, presented directly by renowned researchers of these fields working at the BioRobotics Institute.

After the tour, the ESRs presented their projects to researchers of the BioRobotics Institute in an open poster session, which included as well 3-minute pitch presentations and dedicated time to discussion and exchange of ideas between members of the BioRobotics Institute and STORM-BOTS fellows and their supervisors.

Day 4 was dedicated to lectures by invited speakers. It took place at the Museo Piaggio in Pontedera, next to the BioRobotics Institute, and it was open to external participants. Several experts on Bioinspired and soft robotics, surgical robots, and soft electronics, including Prof Barbara Mazzolai, a member of the External Advisory Board of STORM-BOTS, presented their research to STORM-BOTS members and all participants.

Agenda of DAY 4, 02/03/2023

Piaggio Museum, Viale Rinaldo Piaggio 7, Pontedera

09.15-09.30  Welcome, Antonio De Simone (SSSA, IT)

09.30-10.15  Soft micro-electronics & micro-devices by Virgilio Mattoli (IIT, Pontedera, IT)

10.15-11.00  4D polymer photonics by Sara Nocentini (INRIM, Torino, IT)

11.30-12.15  Robotic Exoskeletons – From Lab to Market by Nicola Vitiello (SSSA, Pisa, IT)

12.15-13.00 Ecorobots for sustainability by Barbara Mazzolai (IIT, Genova, IT)

14.30-15.15  Creative engineering design applied to biorobotics by Cesare Stefanini (SSSA, Pisa, IT)

15.15-16.00 Liquid Crystalline Networks at the interface with biological muscles by Daniele Martella (LENS, Firenze, IT)

16.30-17.15 Robotic contributions for minimally invasive surgery and targeted therapy by Arianna Menciassi (SSSA, Pisa, IT)

17.15-17.30 Wrap-up and closure, Antonio De Simone (SSSA, IT)

The boot-camp has been a key training event for the STORM-BOTS fellows, that has taken place in an especially relevant moment of their individual research projects and career. Not only they have been trained in FEM modelling and how to apply it to their work but also, they have been exposed to cutting-edge research in Europe in the fields of robotics, and the leading researchers. Furthermore, the format of the event has been ideal for favouring the scientific discussion and exchange of ideas, as well as getting relevant feedback from the external researchers present at the different parts of the boot-camp.

In addition, the boot-camp has contributed to the training of other researchers by opening all talks and lectures to external attendees and has also given a boost to raising awareness of the STORM-BOTS project importantly to the scientific community in the fields of robotics but also to society.

We are all looking forward to the new symposium that will take place in Tampere, Finland, next September!

Latest news