Dr. Federico Renda
Dr. federico renda Associate Professor Mechanical Engineering

Contact Information
federico.renda@ku.ac.ae +971 2 312 3932


Dr. Federico Renda is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Before joining Khalifa University, he was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, where he received his Ph.D. degree in 2014.

Dr. Federico Renda joined the LS2N lab at IMT Atlantique and the DEFROST Lab at INRIA as a Visiting Professor in 2018, 2019, and 2022. He currently serves as Associate Editor in Soft Robotics, the International Journal of Robotics Research, and the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters journals.

His research interests include dynamic modeling and control of soft and underwater robots using principles of geometric mechanics. Dr. Renda is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

  • PhD, Robotics, Scuola Superiore SantAnna (Italy), 2014
  • MSc, Biomedical Engineering, University of Pisa (Italy), 2009
  • BSc, Biomedical Engineering, University of Pisa (Italy), 2007

  • Advanced Dynamics (MEEN 601 )
  • Differential Equations (MATH206)
  • Feedback Control (MEEN 621)
  • UAV Modeling and Control (AERO401)
  • Computer-Controlled Systems (MEEN356)
  • Dynamic Systems and Vibration (MEEN350)
  • Engineering Dynamics (MEEN201)

Affiliated Research Institutes/Centers
  • KU Center for Autonomous Robotic Systems
  • Robotics and Intelligent Systems Institute

Research Interests
  • Soft Robotics
  • Underwater Robotics
  • Geometric Mechanics

Research Projects

Soft Underwater Locomotion and Manipulation for Seamless Monitoring and Intervention in Extreme Marine Environments (Sponsored by KU)

Underwater soft robotics is receiving growing popularity within the scientific community, thanks to its prospective capability of tackling challenges that are hardly dealt with by traditional rigid technologies, especially while interacting with an unstructured environment. Incorporating the benefits of the two approaches, in this project, we propose a multifunctional multi-module underwater robotic system with deformable appendages for grasping and propulsion, inspired by bacteria morphology.

Heterogeneous swarm of Underwater Autonomous Vehicles (Sponsored by TII)

In this Research Project a swarm of heterogeneous underwater robotic fishes will be investigated. Starting from the biological counterparts of real school fishes, an artificial school of 30 hybrid (remotely controlled and autonomous) underwater robots will be implemented, consisting of 5 “special” fishes integrated with more sensors and communication channels with the remote operator, and 25 “normal” autonomous fishes, with less sensors and able to communicate each other (a safety methodology to recover the robot is integrated in case of emergency). Additional to that, a floating beacon is able to collect data from fishes. A static robot deployed on the sea floor and able to resurface after operation is designed to collect environmental data.

Artificial Feather Stars: A Multi-functional, Multi-agent and Hyper-redundant Approach for Soft Underwater Robotics (Sponsored by ONRG)

In this project, we propose a novel underwater soft robot inspired by feather stars, a swimming specimen of the Crinoidea family, composed of multiple, branching soft modules that surround the main body of the animal as well as its robotics counterpart. Exploiting its elongated structure and natural compliance, each module will combine propulsion and manipulation skills in order to obtain a highly redundant system able to adapt to different tasks. The proposed design has the potential to unveil an effective solution for a broad range of underwater operations currently unsolved. It also allows safe, robust, and gentle manipulation and intervention in human-made underwater structures such as oil and gas pipelines.

Marine Robotics for Ocean Interventions (Sponsored by KU)

The oceans present critical sources of food and other resources crucial to economic development in the UAE and the world in general. Several offshore and subsea systems have been constructed to take advantage of the resources offered by the oceans. Such systems include energy harvesters, offshore oil and gas drilling platforms, communication cable networks, and fish farms. Constructing, maintaining, and repairing such offshore facilities is very challenging, requiring specialized vessels and human divers. This project will investigate the use of an underwater mobile manipulator for carrying out maintenance and repair tasks. We will focus on embracing compliance and torque control, developing novel compliant underwater arms, and multimodal underwater perception systems. Particular emphasis will be on semi-autonomous underwater rope manipulation and knotting.

Biomimetic-joint-thrust system for underwater propulsion (Sponsored by KU)

Jet propulsion is an energy-efficient mechanism employed in traditional aerospace and marine engines, consisting of a fast-moving jet of fluid to generate a propulsive thrust. This mechanism is also at the base of the swimming strategies of several marine species. By pointing the jet outlet in different directions and by changing the amount of water drawn, cephalopods (squid or octopi) can modify the direction and speed of their jet propulsion. Inspired by this, we present a soft jet propulsor that can control the outlet position and orientation. The design combines the actuation required for the volume squeezing at the base of the jet propulsion mechanism with a second actuator to define the orientation of the propulsor. This thruster has the potential to unveil an effective solution for a broad range of tasks currently unsolved, combining the high-speed maneuverability of traditional rigid jet propellers with the main advantages of soft robotics.

Research Staff and Graduate Students:

Dr. Anup Mathew Post Doctoral Fellow
Dr. Saverio Iacoponi Post Doctoral Fellow
Dr. Daniel Feliu Post Doctoral Fellow
Eng. Ikhlas Mohamed Ben Hmida Research Associate
Eng. Andrea Infanti Research Associate
Yusuf Abdullahi Adamu PhD
Abdulaziz Youssef Alkayas PhD
Mohamed Moustafa Elhanbaly PhD
Noureldin Mohamed Elhendawi MSc
Ahmad Essam Almasri MSc
Saif Dhafer Alameri MSc
Mohammed Walid Tarnini MSc

Position Overview:

The Khalifa University Center for Autonomous Robotic Systems (KUCARS) invites applications for a postdoctoral researcher to embark on an exciting project in bioinspired underwater locomotion. The research will focus on the following topics:

-          Design of soft underwater rotary propellers and jet thrusters
-          Fluid-structure interaction analysis and optimization
-          Artificial muscle actuation

Application Deadline: October 31st, 2023 (or until position is filled)
Contract Commencement: January 1st, 2024
Contract Duration: 2 years, renewable

To apply, please send your CV to federico.renda@ku.ac.ae.

Candidate Qualifications:

Ideal candidates should possess the following qualifications:

-          A Ph.D. degree in a pertinent field, such as Robotics, Mechatronics, Control, or Computer Engineering.
-          Proficiency in soft robotics, with a preference for underwater and bioinspired systems.
-          Strong expertise in Mechatronics design and fabrication.
-          Experienced with artificial muscle technologies such as dielectric elastomers.
-          Ability to collaborate seamlessly within a diverse, multidisciplinary research team.

Additional desirable attributes include:

-          Familiarity with aspects of fluid-structure interaction and continuum mechanics modeling.
-          A distinguished publication history in robotics-related journals and conferences, such as TRO, IJRR, RAL, Soft Robotics, ICRA, IROS, and RoboSoft.


The chosen candidate will become an integral part of the collaborative, multidisciplinary cohort of researchers at KUCARS in Abu Dhabi. To gain further insight into the KUCARS team and facilities, kindly visit: https://www.ku.ac.ae/kucars.