Research in Robotics has a high impact on many science disciplines. Robots have become ubiquitous and an integral part of modern society. Indeed, their impact on our lives and society has been increasing at an accelerated pace, rising productivity, adding value to our scientific understanding, and improving our health, environment and food production.
The mutually symbiotic relationship between engineering and biology offered by bionics enables to benefit from living organism strategies and to develop bio-engineered artifacts outperforming current artificial systems. Conversely, biomimetic and bioinspired systems are key elements to address unexplored biological challenges and enabling scientific theories validation.
The ability to move and locomote has been evolved by organisms from different kingdoms, including bacteria, Protista, plants, fungi and animals. However, the most elegant and complex locomotion structures have been developed by animals, endowed with the nervous system, to move in each kind of environment on earth, including terrestrial, aquatic, aerial and fossorial scenarios.
Although movement and locomotion have been widely exploited by the engineering community, and many new fields branching in robotics are based on natural locomotion strategies, there are still many challenges that need to be addressed. Indeed, bioinspired fabrication and design processes are still far from reproducing an artificial agent showing the remarkable graceful movements of real animals. Locomotion is an intelligent process involving body, environment, and time, that also includes energy management in terms of cost/benefit balancing deriving from a motor action.
A strong interdisciplinary effort is needed to address these challenges to understand and exploit behaviors (sensory-motor complexes) and to identify future directions enabling the design of efficient autonomous agents with increased energy efficiency, and intrinsic body characteristics, able to adaptively interact with different environments.
The GRC will serve as a multifaceted arena to illustrate how basic scientific accomplishments in different disciplines (smart materials, sensing, actuation, fabrication, hybrid biosystems, etc.) can foster the development of new robot systems and mechanisms with unprecedented abilities.