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SAPHARI is funded under the European Community's 7th Framework Programme


Natural Machine Motion Initiative (NMMI)

Natural Machine Motion Initiative
 is a website designed to provoke interest and educate enthusiasts in robotics. There is a user form, a documentation wiki and a hardware and software design repository where ideas can be exchanged. An updated version will come about mid 2013 with hardware and software updates, modelling and analysis tools for control and estimation, extended simulator for 3D serial manipulators that use VSA joints, a code repository, and tutorials on assembling the new actuators.  

SAPHARI NMMI Winter School

SAPHARI winter school is taking place in Rome, February 20-25, 2015, within the Natural Machine Motion Initiative (NMMI), see!vsa-winter-school/c1hve

The school will feature classes on the basics of Soft Robotics design and control, and will allow extensive hands-on sessions on physical variable-stiffness robots.

The school's climax will be a final competition among student teams on a challenging task to be performed by a soft robot, demonstrating performance superior to rigid robots.

The winning team will be awarded with a qbmate, the 12 dof variable stiffness humanoid torso produced by qbrobotics following the Natural Machine Motion Initiative open-hardware design.

In-class lecture topics will include: 

  • Introduction to Soft Robotics
  • Elements of Human Motor Control
  • Variable Stiffness Actuators from the User's Point of View
  • Control Basics for Soft Robots 
  • Joint-space and Cartesian Impedance Control 
  • Optimal Control of Variable Stiffness Actuators
  • Stiffness and Impedance Estimation  


  • Bram Vanderborght, VUB
  • Nikos Tsagarakis, IIT
  • Giorgio Grioli, IIT and Università di Pisa
  • Manolo Garabini, IIT and Università di Pisa
  • Fabrizio Flacco, Università di Roma La Sapienza
  • Alessandro De Luca, Università di Roma La Sapienza
  • Manuel Catalano, IIT and Università di Pisa
  • Etienne Burdet, Imperial College
  • Antonio Bicchi, IIT and Università di Pisa
  • Alin Albu Schaeffer (tbc)

A final half-day workshop will close the school. 

The detailed program of the school can be found here:!programme/c1xoa

Download here
the program of the closing workshop.
Hands-on experience will be gained on real VSA actuators. Participants will form teams equipped with a kit of actuators, boards, flanges, batteries etc. at disposal for the whole week. Teams will have access to all open-source HW and SW code available on the NMMI platform, and are expected to share the code/applications/examples they will develop on the same platform.

Registration is free for the whole event, including coffee breaks. Because of the hands-on nature of the school, the number of attendees will be limited. Therefore, there will be a selection of applicants on the basis of their CV and motivations.

The school will be held at the Auditorium Antonianum, within walking distance from the Ancient Rome's Forum and Colosseum.

The slides and the videos of all the lectures can be downloaded from here:!about1/c1enh 

Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics (DLR)