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Programme: H2020 - FET-PROACTIVE scheme of the EU FET unit (Future and Emerging Technologies)

Project title: Submarine Cultures Perform Long-Term Robotic Exploration of Unconventional Environmental Niches


Duration: April 2015- March 2019

EU contribution: EUR 4.000.000

ISMAR budget: EUR 30.000

Web site:


subCULTron aims for achieving long-term autonomy in a learning, self-regulating, self-sustaining underwater society/culture of robots in a high-impact application area: Venice, Italy.

Our heterogeneous system consists of 3 different agent types:

On the sea-ground, artificial mussels are the collective long-term memory of the system, allowing information to stay beyond the runtime of other agents, thus allowing to continue learning from previously learned states. These mussels monitor the natural habitat, including biological agents like algae, bacterial incrustation and fish.

On the water surface, artificial lily pads interface with the human society, delivering energy and information influx from ship traffic or satellite data.

Between those two layers, artificial fish move/monitor/explore the environment and exchange info with the mussels and lily pads. Artificial mussels are novel class of underwater agents.

We aim to push forward the edge of knowledge with novel sensors (electric sense/electro-communication), novel bio-inspired algorithms (underwater hives) and novel energy harvesting in underwater scenarios.

We will improve the world’s record for swarm-size in autonomous collective underwater robotics by almost one order of magnitude.

Our application field is a human- and animal-co-inhabited real-world environment of high impact: Venice canals & lagoon.

These habitats are highly dynamic and structured, expected to be reflected by a spatial self-structuring of our mussel population.

These sub-populations locally perform memetic or cultural learning algorithms on their specific local data. Thus our cultural evolution algorithms will promote sub-culture development, similar to the human society that does the same above the water level in parallel. Overall, we aim for an artificial society underneath the water-surface to the service of a human society above the water.

Contact person in ISMAR:


  1. University of Graz – Artificial Life Lab, (Austria)
  2. Université Libre de Bruxelles, (Belgium)
  3. Cybertronica Research Research Center of Advanced Robotics and Environmental Science, (Germany)
  4. ARMINES: Co-leader of Artificial systems and Bioinspired behaviours, (France)
  5. SSSA Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, (Italy)
  6. UNIZG-FER University of Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, (Croatia)
  7. Consortium for coordination of research activities concerning the Venice lagoon system – CORILA, (Italy)
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