Ardian Jusufi

Max Planck Independent Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems
  • Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems
  • Germany

About Ardian Jusufi


Dr. Ardian Jusufi positions his highly interdisciplinary research at the interface of engineering, materials science, and biomechanics. He specializes on soft active materials, biomimetics, and robotics inspired by original biomechanical discovery. Ardian is a pioneer in the biorobotic investigation of robust locomotion of robots underpinned by his discoveries of tails as control appendages enabling rapid disturbance rejection and multi-modal transitions. His research has been featured in leading journals including PNAS and Nature (both cover articles), as well as Soft Robotics, Current Biology, and Advanced Intelligent Systems.


With a goal to achieve the dream of life-like movement, he integrates soft actuators and flexible sensors made of hyperelastic silicone elastomers (containing liquid metal) and embeds them into a diving, soft robotic fish, for instance. Their integration enables new skills in swimming and arboreal robots to increase their ability to overcome obstacles. In contrast to robots with mostly hard components, the musculoskeletal system is capable of adapting to multiple dynamic perturbations simultaneously. Life-like movement not only expands upon robot capability, it also enables original discovery in experimental biomechanics. His research integrates robotics, ‘smart’ materials, with comparative biomechanics. In this spirit, Dr. Ardian Jusufi is a leader in the field of biorobotics enabled by biomimetic materials and mechanisms.


What is the research focus and the team’s vision?

As the physicist Richard Feynman famously said: “What I cannot create, I do not understand”. 

The past decade has presented a dramatic expansion in the development of mobile robots and the application of robotic systems to practical tasks. Despite the proliferation of computation and sensing at the small scale, robots still remain largely unable to access all but the most structured environments, and unable to reach the performances of natural systems.


The capability gap between nature and human-made devices is most apparent in locomotion. Biological organisms traverse various cluttered terrains (e.g. granular media) effortlessly, whereas even the most advanced robots get stuck. Biomechanical system robustness emerges from the interplay of materials and mechanics based solutions barely dreamt of by robotics engineers. Although novel computational solutions and biologically inspired mechanisms have advanced robot locomotion, most platforms are made of predominantly rigid parts, offering precision and control. By contrast, biological tissues consist in large part of water, making compliance ubiquitous in nature. Morphing structures such as fins, tails, and wings allow for shape changes on the body, thus enabling unparalleled transmedium movement with multi-functional appendages. Soft active materials are now required to emulate and decipher the general principles of natural motion systems – Experimental robotics can advance motion science by breathing new life into physical models. Embodimentprovides physical resilience by exploiting the morphological intelligence of the body to simplify control. 


Experimental validation of gliding and climbing is measured in field research. However, the softest model systems are found under water. To this end, Dr. Jusufi’s research has shown that soft fluidic actuators made of silicone elastomers that enable shape changes on the body, facilitating body stiffness modulation during undulatory swimming in flow tanks. Electroactive polymers are also used in a fluid movement context. Fluidic soft sensors, in turn, provide proprioception for closed loop control. 


Robophysical modelling thus unlocks nature’s secrets to maximum mobility andmanipulationReverse-engineering nature’s patents offers design blueprints for resilient biomimetic devices that expand the reach of human experience with potential for diverse industry applications.


Recent Publications:


Curriculum Vitae:

Dr. Ardian Jusufi graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, where most of his formal training took place. He moved to the University of Cambridge where he was a Queens' College Postdoctoral Research Associate. Subsequently, Ardian was a research scientist at Harvard University, under the supervision of Prof. Wood of the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically-Inspired Engineering. He was a lecturer in Sydney before founding the Max Planck Research Group in 2018. His research group is an integral part, in fact one of the first research groups of the Cyber Valley ecosystem.  Ardian has been a Max Planck Research Group Leader [~Associate Professor] at the MPI for Intelligent Systems (formerly Metals Research) for over three years.


Awards & Honors (Selected) 


Outstanding Teaching Award for G.S.Instructors – U.C.Berkeley.


William V. Power Award – U.C. Berkeley.


Queens’ College Postdoctoral Research Associate, Cambridge University.                                                                           

Best Poster Presentation – 8thInternational Symposium Adaptive Motion in Animals and Machines, Japan.


Best Presentation Competition, Runner-up, Soc. Int. Comp. B. Annual main conference.


Invited Speaker RSS 2019.

Invited Symposium Speaker SICB 2011 and 2021.

Invited Speaker ICRA 2022


Biomaterials Biomechanics Bionics Smart biosensors and diagnostics

Intro Content

Contributor Comms Biology

Lizards’ astounding crash-landing ability validated with Soft Robot perching

Aerial soft robotic physical models with an active tail reflex provide experimental validation field discovery of Geckos' superpowers in the rainforest canopy are not entirely down to its unparalleled feet. Versatile tails play just as much a pivotal role.


Channels contributed to:

Behind the Paper

Online Elsewhere