Laboratory of Autonomous Robotics
and Artificial Life


Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, CNR


The Laboratory of Artificial Life and Robotics is an internationally recognized research group that carries out pioneering research in the area of artificial life, evolutionary robotics and emergence of communication. The laboratory was founded by Domenico Parisi in 1985 and is coordinated by Stefano Nolfi since 1994.

Our main research activity involves the study of artificial organisms that are embodied (i.e. that are controlled by an artificial neural network but that also have a body), situated (i.e. that are located in an external environment with which interact ) and adaptive (i.e. that adapt to their task environment by varying phylogenetically and/or ontogenetically ).

Our research study focuses on the mechanisms underlying individual behaviour (i.e. sensory-motor coordination, motivation and behaviour arbitration), collective behaviour (i.e. coordination and cooperation, communication) and cognition (categorization, integration of sensory-motor information through time, anticipation etc.)

We look at behaviour and cognition as a complex adaptive system that emerges from the interactions between the agent's control system, the agent's body, and the external environment (including the social environment). Moreover we consider adaptive techniques (i.e. evolutionary/learning techniques in which the free parameters that vary during the adaptive process regulate the fine-grained interaction between the agent and the environment and in which variations are retained or discarded on the basis of their affect at the level of the global behaviour exhibited by the agent or by the agents) as the most suitable method to develop ing effective artificial embodied agents.

Areas of interest include: autonomous robots, evolutionary robotics, adaptive behaviour, collective and swarm intelligence, embodied cognition, educational technologies.

The Laboratory is involved in various European and National RTD research projects.