As a Ph.D. student, his research aims at challenging the conventional approach to the exploration of confined spaces with aerial robots by exploiting contact interactions with the environment. Indeed, he seeks inspiration in biological organisms and soft robotics to model and design drones that squeeze when traversing narrow crevices and adopt multimodal locomotion strategies to crawl through the gap. To this aim, he designs innovative solutions presenting on-demand, selective flexibility for impact resilience and high deformability while keeping sufficient stiffness for a stable flight. For this purpose, he applies the theory of continuum, solid mechanics to the drone, leading to large, nonlinear-elastic deformations in a highly anisotropic fashion.
Dense forest canopies, complex infrastructures, and collapsed buildings are clear examples of fields where a squeezing aerial robot can enhance exploration and inspection performance.
Luca Girardi, born in Padua (Italy) in 1996, joined the Environmental Robotics Laboratory at ETH Zurich as a Ph.D. student in 2021.
He received his B.Sc. Degree in Mechanic and Mechatronic Engineering (cum laude) from the University of Padua in 2018, and his M.Sc. Degree in Bionics Engineering, Biorobotics (cum laude), jointly from the University of Pisa and Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies. In 2018, he was admitted to Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies as an Honors Student. Here, he further studied the modeling of structures in the large-deformation regimes, with applications to space structures and biorobotics. From June to August 2019, he has been a student research fellow at the Space Structures Laboratory at Caltech, supervised by Prof. S. Pellegrino, where he worked on multistable and deployable, nonlinear-elastic, ribbon-based structures.
Through his studies and research experiences, he mastered analytical and numerical tools in continuum, solid mechanics, with innovative applications in soft robotics.