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Nicola Diolaiti
PhD Student
D.E.I.S. - University of Bologna
Viale Risorgimento 2
40136 Bologna
Tel. +(39) 051 2093902 (new!)
Fax. +39.051.2093073

Curriculum Vitae

I was born in Bentivoglio (BO), on 30th August 1975. I took my Laurea Degree cum laude at the University of Bologna on the 21st of July 2000, with an experimental master thesis titled "Navigation system for mobile robots in unknown environments", developed at L.A.R., the Laboratory of Automation and Robotics under the supervision of prof. Claudio Melchiorri.

I started my PhD program in "Automation and Operations Research" on January 2002, my tutor is prof. Claudio Melchiorri. On December of the same year I took the professional degree in engineering.

In the period January-April 2003, I was at the Drebbel Institute for Mechatronics of the Twente University (NL) under the supervion of prof. Stefano Stramigioli and Arjan V.d. Schaft, developing passivity-based techniques aimed at improving the transparency of telemanipulation systems. During this research activity nonlinear recursive techniques for the estimation of contact parameters for compliant materials have been developed.

In April 2004 - July 2005, I am at the Stanford AI-Robotics Lab at the Stanford University (CA, USA) under the supervision of prof. J. Kenneth Salisbury and Gunter Niemeyer (Stanford Telerobotics Lab), working at the stability and passivity analysis of haptic interfaces when quantization and limited amplifier bandwith introduce nonlinearities in the control loop. The purpose of this research activity is to obtain guidelines to develop control algorithms to guarantee the passivity of the overall system also for very stiff virtual objects.

On May, 19th 2005 I received the PhD Degree in "Automation and Operations Research" from the University of Bologna, defending the dissertation: "Robotic Interaction: Analysis and Control".

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Research Interests

  • My research interests are in the field of robotics and more generally in the field of control, both from a theoretical and practical point of view.

  • I started working in the field of mobile robots, especially on map-building and path-planning algorithms, that have been implemented on a Pioneer 2DX platform by taking advantage of the Linux operating system.

  • Currently, I'm working on teleoperation force-reflecting systems. Beside the need to guarantee stability also for consistent time-delays in data communication between master ans slave devices, it is fundamental to achieve also a good telepresence sensation, so that the human operator feels like he's directly manipulating a remote object. Several authors showed that, generally speaking, stability and transparency are contrasting requisited and a satisfactory trade-off has to be achieved by means of suitable control algorithms.

  • Moreover, force-feedback robotic devices (haptic interfaces) can be advantageously used in virtual reality interaction tasks. In this case, the time-discrete nature of virtual environments introduces several control and simulation problems.

  • In both applications, passivity-based non-linear control technique and the port-Hamiltonian formalism proved to be suitable tool to handle modeling and control problems. In particular, accurate modeling of contact dynamics between robotic devices and real or virtual objects is required in order to let human operator perceive correctly their mechanical properties.

  • Control and simulation algorithms are currently implemented by means of Real-Time Operating Systems, mainly RTAI-Linux, that allows to use common PCs to carry out control tasks.

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Research Projects and Publications

GEOPLEX (European Commission Sponsored Project): I work on the workpackages WP 8 (teleoperation systems) and marginally on WP 7 (haptic interaction). The aim of the project is to develop modeling and control techniques based on the port-Hamiltonian approach. Therefore complex systems can be modeled as a network of simpler components, interconnected through power ports.

In the context of this research activity, control algorithms for time-delayed teleoperation have been studied and validated. In particular, an asymmetric system for the bilateral teleoperation of a mobile platform has been used to study the effects of different kinematics and workspaces between the master and the slave devices.


Moreover, the investigation of contact dynamics lead to the design of nonlinear recursive estimation techniques that could be used to improve the transparency of a teleoperation system.



Stability of Haptic Rendering: During my stay at the Stanford AI-Robotics Lab I'm working on the analysis of the stability of haptic rendering. When digital control loops are used to simulate stiff virtual objects, haptic devices operate at the edge of stability. High force feedback gain is limited by quantization, discretization and possible computational delay, that cause non-passive behaviors to appear even when simulating a simple linear spring. New control algorithms are being studied to enable current devices to improve this aspect and the insights obtained through energy-based analysis are used to design better new devices.





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School and courses

  • 14-20 July 2002, Bertinoro (FO): Italian National School "Antonio Ruberti" for PhD Students organized by "Centro Interuniversitario per le Ricerche in Automatica" (CIRA), about the Geometric and Polynomial Approaches in Control Theory and control aspects of Mobile Robots.

  • 6-12 July 2003, Bertinoro (FO): Euron-Geoplex summer school on Modelling and Control of Complex Dynamical Systems - from Ports to Robotics

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Teaching Activity

  • December 2001: Introduction to Industrial Robotics within the IFTS-Fortis program at the S.C.M. (Rimini) factory.
  • April-June 2002: Exercises of the course of "Automatic Controls L-B" held by prof. Claudio Melchiorri at the Second Faculty of Engineering of the University of Bologna (Link to course page).

  • April-June 2003: Exercises of the course of "Automatic Controls L-B" held by prof. Claudio Melchiorri at the Second Faculty of Engineering of the University of Bologna (Link to course page).
  • September-December 2003: Tutor of the course of "Automatic Controls L-A" held by prof. Claudio Melchiorri at the First Faculty of Engineering of the University of Bologna ((Link to course page).


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Personal Interests

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