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A new robot for the first 20 years of IIT

During the day, IIT unveiled for the first time in Italy the humanoid robot ergoCub, the latest outcome of IIT’s research in the field of robotics and Artificial Intelligence, in which the institute ranks among the most advanced research centers globally

The new humanoid robot ergoCub was presented today by Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italian Institute of Technology) during the 20th-anniversary celebrations at the Auditorium of its headquarters in Genoa. The robot, an emblem of IIT’s robotics and Artificial Intelligence, two areas that position the institute among the most advanced research centers worldwide, greeted the numerous institutional and scientific guests in the audience and demonstrating its movement skills.

ergoCub is 150 cm tall and weights 55.7 kg. Its name is a combination of “ergo”, signifying a focus on ergonomics, and “Cub”, reminiscent of the name of the child humanoid iCub, which served as the reference platform for the development of the new robot and has been a symbol of the institute since its foundation. The new robot is equipped with artificial intelligence and has been designed to have a system capable of assessing, managing, reducing, and preventing physical risk for workers in industrial and hospital settings.

As a result of the collaboration between IIT’s research staff and INAIL’s, ergoCub represents only one of the latest milestones of the Institute. During the celebrations, guests had the opportunity to see live some of the institute’s other creations that have accompanied its growth over the years: the humanoid robot R1, completed in 2016 and designed for operation in domestic and professional environments; the modural and configurable Concert robot in development since 2021; and finally, FLOAT, an innovative robotic medical device for arm rehabilitation, presented in 2022.

The first day of celebration aimed to commemorate the founding law that established Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italian Institute of Technology) as a new multidisciplinary research center inspired by international models in September 2023, with the goal of promoting the development of the national economic system, supporting excellence in basic and applied research.

Currently, the total staff at IIT counts nearly 2000 people, with more than half coming from over 60 countries around the world. Research activities, focused on robotics, AI, new materials, and life technologies, have resulted in approximately 18.000 scientific publications, 1.294 active patents, and the establishment of 33 startups. The institute has also participated in 385 European projects, 43 international projects, and 124 international initiatives and 177 with foundations. Its researchers have received a total of 61 grants for cutting-edge research from the prestigious European Research Council (ERC), positioning IIT as a leader in Italy.

To open the event, a message of congratulations from the Italian Head of State Sergio Mattarella was delivered by the President of IIT, Gabriele Galateri di Genola. This was followed by institutional greetings from President Galateri and the Scientific Director of IIT, Giorgio Metta, who outlined the institute’s key achievements.

Greetings from local authorities, Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci in remote connection, the Liguria Region President Giovanni Toti via video message and the Genoa Councilor Mario Mascia, were followed by those from European and national figures: European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni via video message, Italian Minister of University and Research Anna Maria Bernini in remote connection, and Director General of the Treasury – Minister of Economy and Finance – Riccardo Barbieri Hermitte.

The memory of the foundation of the institute and its early years was shared by former Italian Minister of Education, University and Research Letizia Moratti, now President of the E4Impact Foundation; the first President of IIT Vittorio Grilli, now Chairman of Corporate & Investment Bank of Europe, the Middle East and Africa at JPMorgan; and the first Scientific Director of IIT Roberto Cingolani, now CEO of Leonardo.

The international dimension of IIT’s scientific research was emphasized by the presence of prominent figures from the European and American scientific community (where IIT has two outstations, one at MIT and the other at Harvard): European Research Council President Maria Leptin; Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Edith Heard; Nobel laureate in Chemistry Martin Chalfie and Tomaso Poggio, a member of the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines at MIT in Boston, USA.

The entire day was moderated by RAI (Italian national tv) journalist Valentina Gregori.

The celebrations will continue tomorrow, 22 September, with the first in-person meeting of the European Association AERG (Association of ERC grantees), bringing together researchers who have received ERC funding. The meeting will focus on research excellence, its evaluation and policies to promote it. Part of the meeting will also be dedicated to the research conducted by Barbara Mazzolai, Associate Director of IIT for robotics, who won the ERC funding in 2020. Other events are planned throughout the end of the year.




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