The goal of SHERPA is to develop a mixed ground and aerial robotic platform to support search and rescue activities in a real-world hostile environment, like the alpine scenario.

What makes the project scientifically rich is the heterogeneity of the different actors of the SHERPA team: the human rescuer, the ground rover with its robotic arm, the aerial platforms. The research activity focuses on how the human rescuer and the SHERPA robots interact and collaborate with each other, with their own features and capabilities, toward the achievement of a common goal. Emphasis is placed on robust autonomy of the platform, acquisition of cognitive capabilities, collaboration strategies, natural and implicit interaction between the human rescuer and the robots.

Results 2013

The mechanical design of the SHERPA robotic arm has started and a part of the first prototype has been realized. The kinematics of the robotic arm allows for interaction with the small-scale UAVs, located either on the rover or on the ground close to the rover. A competent kinematic and dynamic model of the SHERPA robotic arm has been realized in 20sim in order to derive the mechanical specifications and to develop the low- and high-level control strategies.

Preliminary work has been carried out on the HMI interfaces. More specifically, a bilateral teleoperation of a 1-DoF variable stiffness robotic arm has been realized. The human operator’s motion and muscle activation are read by the Xsens MVN suite and EMG signals, respectively, and are interpreted in order to generate commands to control both the motion, i.e., the position, and the dynamic behavior, i.e. the stiffness, of the robotic system, i.e., the VSA-UTII. The human operator receives back the information on the state of the robotic system in the form of haptic feedback, generated by linear resonant actuators.


Project lead

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dr. Raffaella Carloni


no picture available Stefano Stramigioli