Interactive Objects

Everyday objects can be animated to improve their functionalities and to provide a more interesting environment. Moreover, it is interesting to explore new interaction situations. Proper design of shape and interaction is needed to obtain interesting objects. Emotional expression is an interesting aspect to explore.

We have developed a couple of emotional trash bins, going around to invite to trash selected materials by using the lid movements and sounds, a coat-hanger (IGHOR), welcoming people entering and asking to have their coats, showing sadness if they keep it on, a naughty fan, coming close and suddenly investing the person with an air flow, a naughty money saver that has to be chased to give it money, a kind of pillow that react with sounds to the way it is touched.

Robotic Art

Robots can be used as artistic media, able to perform and interact with people in artistic representations.

Robot actor

We have developed the first steps that will bring to the development of an autonomous robotic actor, able to participate to a public representation either with a defined role and script, or, as a final goal, as an Improv actor able to adapt the performance to external stimuli. For the moment we have a developed a robot that is able to move in classical scenes (e.g. the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet) selecting the proper emotional expressions for the situation, and a framework to define emotional expressions according to the social setting among characters, and the situation. The final step to obtain a robotic actor to play scripted scenes is under development.

Interactive robotic art

Robots can have different shapes and play different roles in interactive artistic performances. We are exploiting materials like nets, polyethilene sheets, polyurethane foams and other materials to obtain shapes interesting to move in interactive exhibits. Emotional expression is also in this area, an interesting feature to explore.


ALMA (Ageing Without Losing Mobility and Autonomy) is a European project focused on supporting the autonomous mobility, navigation, and orientation of the mobility-impaired person (elderly and/or temporarily or permanently disabled person).

The ALMA system is a modular combination of advanced hardware and software technologies into an integrated and modular cost-effective system. AIRLab contributed to ALMA with its Personal Mobility Kit.

Contact: Matteo Matteucci

For additional details:

Jedi Trainer

In Jedi Trainer a drone is flying around a Jedi knight trainee aiming at training its ability in using the light saber, as in the first episode of the Star wars saga with Luke Skywalker.

By analyzing the image from the onboard camera, the drone maintains the distance from the player, keeping it always in the image, and moving slightly left and right as to look for the best position to shot. When appropriate, it makes a sound with its propeller, simulating a laser shot, and the player has to parry it by putting the light saber in front of her/his chest.

The drone is intrinsically adapting to the style of movement of the player: a more active player will have to face a more active trainer.


Robots playing with people in physically interactive games exploit both the abilities requited to autonomous robots (such as: mapping, perception, navigation, planning, …), but also those required to appear as effective players and good play companions, involving the players in challenging and satisfactory games, matching their ability.

We have developed many games gradually exploring different facets of the development of games hwere a player is an autonomous robot, from the perception and actuation abilities needed to play following the game rules, while guaranteeing the safety of the players, to timing in different aspects, to the characteristics of the robot (e.g., shape, speed, materials, sensors…), to involvement and adaptation to the skill of the player, either intrinsic or learned while playing.

A selection of the developed games is listed here below.

Robot and disability

Robots can be successfully applied with success with people with disabilities. Since years we are developing robots, also in collaboration wit care centers, which could be used for inclusive play . A web site dedicated to this activity is

Samples of these robots are also listed here below.


Concierge is a robotic head intended to stay on the side of an office door and following with the “eyes” the persons passing in the corridor. When a person comes to the door Concierge makes a “Yes” or “No” gesture according to the possibility to disturb the person in the office. Concierge can be dressed in different ways, corresponding to different psychological types, expressing the same behavior in different flavors. The more appreciated is the funky one.

Contact person: Andrea Bonarini

Benchmarks for Autonomous Robots

Benchmarking means objectively measuring the performance of a robot when executing a task. Being able to benchmark robot systems is necessary to compare their performance, and thus to better understand their strenghts and weaknesses. Both research and industry need this to progress.

However, when dealing with autonomous agents benchmarking is tricky. How to devise testing procedures that yield objective results? What metrics capture the key points of the robot performance? How can robots that perform the same complex action differently be compared?

AIRLab has been working on these issues for a long time, accumulating experience in both methodology and real-world benchmark design, setup and execution.

Over the years, we participated -and are participating- to many European projects about robot benchmarking, including RAWSEEDS​ (FP6), RoCKIn​ (FP7), RockEU2 (H2020), RobMoSys (H2020), EUROBENCH (H2020), SciRoc (H2020), METRICS (H2020).

Contact: Matteo Matteucci


i.Drive is an interdepartmental laboratory where AIRLab is the technology provider for robotics.

The laboratory aims at developing inter-disciplinary proficiency required for analysis and modelling of behavioral aspects due to the interaction between driver, vehicle, infrastructure, and environment through:

  • A fixed structural component based on a virtual realty simulator aimed at the ex-ante test of expected behavioral models, the joined optimization of vehicle and road infrastructure, the increase of ex-post and in-itinere statistical significance ofexperiments carried out on roads;
  • A mobile component based on an instrumented vehicle aimed at measuring on field performance and reactions of drivers in different driving conditions and at collecting environmental data to be reproduced ex-post by simulation.

Contact: Matteo Matteucci

For additional details: