My grant & project track record
Over the course of my professional scientific career (since my PhD in 2001) I have successfully acquired a set of projects /grants, in many of which I also served as the leading consortium coordinator. All of these projects that I have coordinated have been finally graded with the highest grade "excellent" by the independent reviewer boards that were appointed by the funding organizations. Most of these research projects are, or have been, interdisciplinary and international. My collaboration partners come from all over Europe and they also come from many different disciplines like Zoology, Plant Sciences, Mathematics, Genetics, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mechatronics, Architecture and Material Sciences. These projects shape my research agenda and thus also my scientific findings, which in turn, open new doors for applying for new projects. Over the course of these projects I not only gathered a lot of very diverse insights and knowledge, I also found a rich network of collaborators and friends, whom I thank for doing all these research projects together with me.
EU FET project RoboRoyale (2021 - 2026)
In the EU-FET project RoboRoyale a group of novel biomimetic robots is developed with the goal to allow these robots to interact with a living honeybee queen inside of a fully functional beehive. These robots will act as surrogates of queen court bees and retrieve information about the status of the queen, as well as exert specific influence on this central element of the colony. (read more)
My research in the project RoboRoyale is in cooperation with the following international and interdisciplinary partners: Prof. Farshad Arvin (University of Manchester, UK, coordinator), Prof. Tomas Krajnik (Czech Technical University, Prague) and Prof. Erol Sahin (Middle East Technical University, Turkey).
EU FET project Robocoenosis (2020 - 2025)
In the EU-FET project ROBOCOENOSIS a novel and sustainable type of robots is developed that can be used for long-term missions of environmental monitoring in underwater habitats. It uses living organisms that act as bio-indicators to measure the habitat's physical and chemical variables, thus it is in fact a bio-hybrid that has replaced some of its functional components (sensors & actuators) by the organisms that live in those habitats. This way it becomes a pervasive ecosystem-monitoring agent that is more flexible, more robust, more adaptive, more resilient and more sustainable. (read more)
EU FET project Hiveopolis (2019 - 2024)
The EU-FET project HIVEOPOLIS aims at building the beehive of the future. Equipped with sensors and actuators, this beehive is half a smart house and half a bee hive. Built from organic and decomposable materials, e.g., from mushrooms hyphae grown on coffee waste and wooden filament, it combines mechatronics with sustainability. The electronic equipment observes the bees behaviors and growth, in order to ensure a healthy colony. Actuators feed free heating energy to the beehive, removing nutritional stress from the colony without feeding them with any additional substances. This keeps the honey natural, as more natural nectar remains for being harvested by the beekeeper without any energetic loss for the bees. Other actuators feed environmental information to the bees, e.g., through dancing robots that recruit them to specific healthy and safe food sources. In parallel, the natural dances performed by the bees are decoded for registering exactly where the nectar, which can be harvested by the beekeeper later in the form of honey, was originally collected. This "proof-of-origin" for the ultimately harvested honey is a unique aspect for quality control that is of high relevance for more and more heath-interested future customers. In addition, the hive's design and architecture play an important role in this project, not only to make the hive visually attractive for hobbyists and lifestyle beekeepers but also to produce a shape and a microclimate that resembles the natural housing of a bee colony, e.g., a cavity of a hollow tree. Additional features like the "fractional harvesting system" and the "bee traffic management system" allow the beekeepers to harvest small portions of honey (e.g. for the daily breakfast) without any opening of the hive. When beekeepers have to perform hive manipulations in the hive, such as harvesting honey , they can proactively have the bees to leave these parts of the hive, providing security to the beekeeping personnel and to the bees in times of these colony treatments: These empty modules have been made bee-free beforehand by the HIVEOPOLIS system by gently guiding all bees into other regions of the hive. This makes beekeeping more open to everybody, what ultimately is beneficial for bees and for the ecosystems around us. (read more)
EU FET project ATEMPGRAD (2019-2020)
This EU-FET LAUNCHPAD project ATEMPGRAD aims at developing an early prototype of a universal and inexpensive device that will allow schools and universities to teach STEM topics in various disciplines in an interdisciplinary and hands-on way. The device can be used to let students experience hands-on-science regarding different topics, but it is especially tailored towards questions like "How do environmental factors act on living organisms?". For example the factor temperature can be investigated in times of climate change. It allows easy experimentation with plants (e.g., cress), animals (e.g., bugs) or food (e.g., coconut fat). Topics may come from biology, nutrition sciences, physics, chemistry and mathematics. Students perform their own experiments with the device and then analyze their results and present them, e.g., in writing. Specific teaching materials support ATEMPGRAD courses. (read more)
EU FET project subCULTron (2015 - 2019)
The aim of the EU-FET project subCULTron is to create a large robot swarm that is capable of environmental monitoring. We chose the Lagoon of Venice as a benchmark place to conduct this project. The swarm created in this project is composed of 3 types of robots: aPads are like lily pads on the surface, aFish are fish-shaped robots actively browsing and exploring the body of water and aMussels sit like mussels or clams on the ocean floor and observe regions of interest on the long term. All three robot types work together to achieve one objective: stay operational as a swarm as long as possible in an environment which is not a safe laboratory or a swimming pool but a full-fledged natural lagoon with a vibrant living city in it: Venice. (read more)
My research in the project subCULTron is in cooperation with the following international and interdisciplinary partners: Prof. Jean-Louis Deneubourg (Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium), Prof. Cesare Stefanini (Scuola Superiore Di Studi Universitari E Di Perfezionamento Santa Anna, Pontedera, Italy), Prof. Nikola Miskovic and Prof. Stjepan Bogdan (LARICS, Univ. Zagreb, Croatia), Prof. Frederic Boyer (ARMINES, France), Dr. Serge Kernbach (Cybertronica Research, Stuttgart, D) and Dr. Pierpaolo Campostrini (CORILA, Venice Italy). In my lab, Dr. Ronald Thenius, Dr. Joshua Varughese, Mag. Hannes Hornischer and Daniel Moser conduct significant work in this project.
EU FET project FloraRobotica (2015 - 2019)
The EU-FET project Flora Robotica aims at creating biohybrid systems that consist of robots and living plants, both influencing each other. The objective of this cooperative behavior is to grow living architecture from braided materials which offer a substrate for climbing plants. Some parts of the structure get stringer this way, as the plants add stability by adding material while other parts stay unsupported and might eventually even decay. This way, a structure grows, partially determined by the plants, partially determined by the robots, partially determined by the architecture that surrounds it, partially by the human stakeholders and partially by the local environment. To consider all these factors, machine learning is employed to autonomously find out which robot behaviors will generate the desired plant growth to achieve higher-level architectural objectives. (read more)
My research in the project FloraRobotica is in cooperation with the following international and interdisciplinary partners: Prof. Heiko Hamann (University of Lübeck, D, coordinator), Prof. Pzemyslaw Wojtaszek (Adam Mickiewicz University, POL), Prof. Phil Ayres (Centre for Information Technology and Architecture Copenhagen, DK), Prof. Kasper Stoy (IT University Copenhagen, DK), Dr. Serge Kernbach (Cybertronica Research, Stuttgart, D). In my lab, Prof. Payam Zahadat and Mag. Daniel Hofstadler conduct significant work in this project.
EU FET project ASSISIbf (2013-2018)
The objective of the project EU FET ASSISIbf is to create mixed societies of animals and robots. In these biohybrid societies the robots should be fully integrated into the animal society, so that they become part of the collective decision making. By doing so, these robots become a fascinating new research tool to study natural swarm intelligence and collective decision making of social animals. As soon as the robots become a member of the natural collective they can feed information into the collective information processing that these swarm systems perform. This allows not only studying the natural information processing pathways within these systems, it allows also to investigate how a few swarm members (the robots) may modulate the collective behavior of the whole swarm with subtle behavioral divergence from the norm, a sort of stress test of collective intelligence. In the project ASSISIbf, robots are integrated into fish swarms and into populations of honeybees. This finally makes it possible to let the robots, that are integrated in their specific animal society, to coordinate also with each other. This connection resembles the first information exchange between a group of fish and a group or honeybees mediated by robotic moderators or translators. (read more)
My research in the project ASSISIbf is in cooperation with the following international and interdisciplinary partners: Prof. Francesco Mondada (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, CH), Prof. Stjepan Bogdan (LARICS, Univ. Zagreb, Croatia), Prof. Luis Correia (University of Lisbon, Portugal), Dr. Serge Kernbach (Cybertronica Research, Stuttgart, D) and Prof. Jose Halloy (University Paris-Diderot, Paris-7, France). In my lab, Mag. Martina Szopek, Dr. Ronald Thenius, Mag. Michael Bodi, Sarah Schönwetter-Fuchs, Stefan Schönwetter-Fuchs-Schistek and Mag. Martin Stefanec conduct significant work in this project.
FWF project REBODIMENT (2012-2016)
The aim of this FWF project is to create a BEECLUST-driven robot swarm that operates in dynamic temperature gradient fields (like the bees do). While the BEECLUST algorithm, which is derived from honeybees' collective thermotaxis, was implemented on my robot swarms, it was always searching in an environment that was characterized by other stimuli: light, terrain depth or magnetic field. Thus, a re-embodiment of the original source of inspiration, honeybees' thermotactic behavior, was long missing. (read more)
My research in the FWF project REBODIMENT was mainly supported by Dr. Ronald Thenius, Dr. Payam Zahadat, Dr. Daniela Kengyel, Dipl.Ing. Thomas Kunzfeld, Gerald Radspieler and Mag. Martin Stefanec.
EU ICT project CoCoRo (2011 - 2014)
The aim of the EU-ICT project CoCoRo was to develop a swarm of cognitive robots, where not the individual robot is a cognitive unit but rather the swarm itself. In this system, the individual robot is like a sensory cell or a single sensory organ, other robots act like the limbs of the swarm while others take over the role of the information processing organs (the brain). Simple robot-to-robot communications (signaling) and interaction patterns are implemented on the microscopic level to create a more complex functionality on the macroscopic level, which is the level of the swarm. (read more)
My research in the project CoCoRo is in cooperation with the following international and interdisciplinary partners: Prof. Paul Levi (Universität Stuttgart, Germany), Prof. Jean-Louis Deneubourg (Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium), Prof. Cesare Stefanini (Scuola Superiore Di Studi Universitari E Di Perfezionamento Santa Anna, Pontedera, Italy), Prof. John Timmis (University of York, United Kingdom). In my lab, Dr. Ronald Thenius, Dr. Payam Zahadat, Mag. Christoph Möslinger conduct significant work in this project.
EU FET project SYMBRION (2008 - 2013)
The main objective of the EU-FET project SYMBRION is to generate robotic "organisms" from modular robotic "cell" modules that can be physically docked to each other. As each module can bend with an internal hinge and has 4 docking directions possible in parallel, a high number of different body forms is possible. Any specific form of motion for a specific body shape requires coordinations of the bending of the individual units. This has to be spatially and chronologically coordinated, so the the whole organism starts to crawl, walk or maybe even jump. To avoid the need of human programmers to hand-code X motion programs for Y body shapes for each of the Z possible environmental conditions (e.g. terrain form, ground materials), we employ evolutionary computation methods in this project to let the robots find their effective motion gait programs on their own. Just like any living organism, in a juvenile phase, these robot organisms learn, in the beginning of their mission runtime, how to move their own body efficiently and effectively. (read more)
My research in the EU FET project SYMBRION is in cooperation with the following international and interdisciplinary partners: Universität Stuttgart, Germany; Universität Karlsruhe, Germany; Universität Tübingen, Germany; Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie; Belgium; Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic; Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; Institut National de Recherche Eninformatique et Automatique, France; Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherland, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France; University of York, United Kingdom. In my lab, Dr. Ronald Thenius, Dr. Payam Zahadat, Mag. Christoph Möslinger conduct significant work in this project.
EU ICT project REPLICATOR (2008 - 2013)
In the EU-ICT project REPLICATOR, everything (r)evolves around adaptability in multi-modular robotic "organisms". The robotic modules ("cells") that form these organisms are similar to some of the SYMBRION project, with the extension of the "active wheel" robot which was specifically designed to support the reconfiguration process. The scientific research questions in this project focus on this reconfiguration process and on the questions how it can be efficient, effective, flexible, robust, resilient and adaptive in the same time. Evolutionary computation and bio-inspired morphogenetic algorithm play a key role in this project. (read more)
My research in the EU-ICT project REPLICATOR is in cooperation with the following international and interdisciplinary partners: Universität Stuttgart, Germany; Universität Karlsruhe, Germany; Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic; Scuola Superiore Di Studi Universitari E Di Perfezionamento Santa Anna, Pontedera, Italy; Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung, Germany; Allmende BV, Rotterdam, Netherlands; UBISENSE Ltd. Cambridge, UK, Sheffield University, UK; In my lab, Dr. Ronald Thenius, Prof. Heiko Hamann, Dr. Payam Zahadat, Dr. Jürgen Stradner, Mag. Michael Bodi and Mag. Markus Dauschan conduct significant work in this project.
FWF project "Honeybee temperature-based aggregation" (2007-2011)
The aim of this national FWF project was to observe the temperature-induced behavioral patterns that are exhibited by young honeybees in the temperature fields of their brood nest area in their hives. These observations led to the BEECLUST algorithms, which was implemented in many robot swarms. It is also the basis of introducing artificial agents into honeybee collectives, as it is done in the projects ASSISIbf and HIVEOPOLIS. Finally, these observations are door openers for the paradigms of Organismic Augmentation and Ecosystem Hacking.
Honeybees have aggregated at a warm spot
EU FET project I-SWARM (2004-2007)
The main aim of the EU-FET project I-SWARM is to create the largest autonomous robot swarm of its days, with 1000 robots, each of them in a size of 2.5mm in each direction, with 3 vibrating legs and an electrostatic lever. As a development platform for its bio-inspired algorithms serves the robot Jasmine (2.5cm in each dimension), which was with 380 interacting robots the largest autonomous robot swarm from 2005-2011. (read more)
My research in the EU-ICT project I-SWARM is in cooperation with the following international and interdisciplinary partners: Universität Stuttgart, Germany; Universität Karlsruhe, Germany; Scuola Superiore Di Studi Universitari E Di Perfezionamento Santa Anna, Pontedera, Italy; Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung, Germany; National Technical University of Athens, Greece; École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland; Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, United Kingdom; Universitad de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain and Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. In my lab, Dr. Ronald Thenius conducts significant work in this project.
The agent model TaskSelSim models a full beehive with its brood and nutrient cycles
FWF project "Honeybee self-oganization on their combs" (2002-2005)
This national FWF was the first research grant of my PostDoc career. Prof. Karl Crailsheim, my long-term supervisor and mentor, was PI in this project and I contributed significantly to the research plan, to the research conduction and was also acting as the operational lead.
This project had two main objectives: Observe the self-organization and swarm-intelligence of honeybees on their combs on camera, extract the behavioral programs and implement multi-agent computer models of these systems.
From these works a plethora of multi-agent computer simulations stems: HoFoSim, HoForeSim, FlowerSim, HoPoMo and TaskSelSim were all published in various scientific journals and allow an insight into the honeybee collective that would not be possible without these models that integrate masses of data into consistent frameworks of action and interaction. In principle, all my work that followed then stems from these initial studies.