Federico Renda


Dr. Federico Renda received his BSc and MSc degrees in Biomedical Engineering in 2007 and 2009, respectively, from the University of Pisa. He completed his PhD in Robotics in 2014 from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, and joined the IRCCyN Lab at the Ecole des Mines de Nantes in 2013 as visiting PhD student.

Before joining Khalifa University of Science and Technology, he has been appointed as Post-Doctoral Fellow at the BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, where he developed geometrically exact models of beam-like and shell-like underwater soft robots. Since 2015, he has been a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Khalifa University Robotics Institute (KURI), where he presently serves as Assistant Professor in the department of mechanical engineering. In 2018, Dr. Renda joined the LS2N lab at IMT Atlantique as Visiting Professor.

His research interests include dynamic modeling and control of soft and underwater robots using principles of geometric mechanics. Dr. Renda is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).


Flagellum-inspired Soft Underwater Propulsor Exploiting Passive Elasticity

Fig.1: A Caulobacter crescentus and the schematic of the flagellum structure.

Flagellate microorganism are regarded as excellent swimmers within their size scales. This, along with the simplicity of their actuation and the richness of their dynamics makes them a valuable source of inspiration to design continuum, self-propelled underwater robots (Fig. 1).

In this talk, I will present our efforts toward the development of a large scale, soft, flagellum-inspired system. I will show how the flagellum-body passively attains a range of geometrical configurations through the interaction with the surrounding fluid exploiting its own compliance and how the spontaneous formation of stable helical waves along the length of the flagellum is responsible for the generation of positive net thrust. I will discuss preliminary results about the relationship between actuation frequency and material elasticity in determining the steady-state configuration of the system and its thrust output.

One of the main motivation for this work is the chance to exploit passive structural response and the ensuing kinematics of a flagellum-like body to attend to the transitional regime between the low and intermediate Reynolds numbers. In fact, this unique feature, coupled with the capability of performing basic manipulation and the inherent compliance to interaction could make of such flagellum-inspired systems a class of soft robots especially suited for intervention and inspection of marine ecosystems, delicate industrial installations and fluid-filled conduits of diverse size and fluid composition.