Carmelo Di Franco, PhD.
Post Doctoral Researcher at University of Virginia.
Carmelo Di Franco Photo



351 McCormick Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22903, U.S.A.


+1 (434) 924-6481 (Landline)

Short Bio

I am currently a Post Doctoral Researcher at the AMR Lab of the University of Virginia. My research focuses on Assured Autonomy, Energy-Aware path planning of mobile robots, Localization, and more in general on Autonomous systems. I am a Research Affiliate of The Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa.

Previously, I was a Post Doctoral Researcher of ReTiS Lab at the Scuola Superiore S.Anna, Pisa. In March 2017, I finished my PhD. in Emerging Digital Technologies, curriculum Embedded System at the ReTiS Lab of the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, under the supervision of Professor Giorgio Buttazzo. From September 2015 I was a visiting Ph.D. Student for six months at the GRASP lab of University of Pennsylvania under the supervision of George J. Pappas. In 2013, I spent 6 months at the University of Porto where I wrote my master thesis under the supervision of Professor Luis Almeida.

Current Research Projects

Assured Autonomy

Modern robotic systems leverage the growing advances in control, computer vision, and machine learning coupled with technological advances in sensing, computation, and communication to achieve complex autonomous operations often in unknown environments. The lack of understanding of when and how machine learning works makes it hard to provide guarantees for such systems during safety- critical operations. This project focuses on the development of techniques to provide safety assurance at run-time as robotic systems are deployed to perform complex tasks in which learning is required due to uncertainities

GNSS-Free IMU-based Railway localization

Nowadays, real-time localization of trains is challenging both for safety and technological issues. Current techniques estimate the position of a train making use of different types of sensors, including balise transponders, odometry, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), and Inertial Measuring Units (IMU). GNSS is becoming a de-facto standard in train localization for its simplicity and already built-in infrastructure. However, it cannot guarantee a continuous and accurate service, since its precision depends on the surrounding environment, and because satellite signals are not received in certain conditions (e.g., in tunnels, canyons, and near mountains). At the same time, the odometry derived from the encoders mounted on the wheels is subject to a significant drift, which increases by time and can only be reset in the presence of a balise. The project explores IMU capabilities for detecting a number of features on the railway and localize the train without the need of GNSS.

Accurate and Adaptive Energy model for UAVS with variable payload based on neural networks

Nowadays, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are used in a wide range of application domains ranging from agriculture to industry. For instance, using drones for parcel delivery or goods transportation in emergency missions are emerging applications raising a lot of interest in many companies. Although flight planning systems are increasing their complexity for finding optimal UAVs' trajectories depending on the specific task, there is still a significant gap between theory and practice due to the simplifications and strong pessimism in the assumptions on the energy consumption that further reduce the already limited mission time of UAVs. This project proposes an accurate power and mass estimation model based on neural networks that can accurately predict the energy consumption of generic vehicles carrying a payload whose weight may be unknown. Two applications, among all the possible examples, that would benefit from the proposed approach are drone delivery and liquid spraying in precision agriculture (e.g., herbicides).

Past Projects

AVIATOR: is an innovative project, proposed by ReTiSLab and LandLAb of the Scuola Superiore S. Anna, that aims at using fleets of drones to monitoring the growth of plants in farms and finding plant infections on time to prevent bad crops. Using a team of cooperating drones that autonomously take off and inspects the entire field could drastically reduce the costs preventing extensive use of herbicides and reducing the manual effort of the farmer.

Click here to watch a short interview from a local TV about the project . utilization of drones in farms to inspect plants


Journals Publications

  1. Integrated Framework for Fast Prototyping and Testing of Autonomous Systems. Luigi Pannocchi, Carmelo Di Franco, Mauro Marinoni, and Giorgio Buttazzo. Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, 2018.
  2. Dynamic Multidimensional Scaling with anchors and height constraints for indoor localization of mobile nodes. Carmelo Di Franco, Mauro Marinoni, Enrico Bini, and Giorgio Buttazzo. Robotics and Autonomous Systems 108, 28-37
  3. Energy-Aware Spiral Coverage Path Planning for UAV Photogrammetric Applications. Taua M. Cabreira, Carmelo Di Franco, Paulo R. Ferreira Junior, and Giorgio Buttazzo. IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, 3(4), 3662-3668.
  4. Coverage Path Planning for UAVs Photogrammetry with Energy and Resolution Constraints. Carmelo Di Franco, Giorgio Buttazzo. Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, 2016.
  5. Design and analysis of target-sensitive real-time systems. Giorgio Buttazzo, Carmelo Di Franco, Mauro Marinoni. Software: Practice and Experience, 2015.

Conference Publications

  1. .Grid-Based Coverage Path Planning with Minimum Energy Over Irregular-Shaped Areas with UAVs,Tauã Cabreira, Carmelo Di Franco, Paulo R. Ferreira Jr.,and Giorgio C. Buttazzo . Proceedings of the International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ICUAS), Atlanta (United States), 11-14 June, 2019.
  2. .Exploiting Ground and Ceiling Effects on Autonomous UAV Motion Planning,Shijie Gao, Carmelo Di Franco, Darius Carter, Daniel Quinn, and Nicola Bezzo. Proceedings of the International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ICUAS), Atlanta (United States), 11-14 June, 2019.
  3. Multidimensional Scaling with Anchors.Carmelo Di Franco, Enrico Bini, Mauro Marinoni, and Giorgio Buttazzo. Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Autonomous Robot Systems and Competitions (ICARSC 2017). Coimbra (Portugal), 26-30 April, 2017.
  4. Calibration-free Network Localization using Non-Line-Of-Sight Ultra-wideband Measurements.Carmelo Di Franco, Amanda Prorok, Nikolay Atanasov, Benjamin Kempke, Prabal Dutta, Vijay Kumar, and George Pappas. The 16th ACM/IEE international Conference on Information and Processing om Sensor Networks, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, USA, April 18-21, 2017.
  5. Solving Ambiguities in MDS Relative Localization.Carmelo Di Franco, Alessandra Melani and Mauro Marinoni. Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Advanced Robotics (ICAR 2015). Istanbul (Turkey), 27-31 July, 2015.[BibTeX].
    Best Paper Award Candidate
  6. Energy-aware Coverage Path Planning of UAVs. Carmelo Di Franco and Giorgio Buttazzo. Proceedings of the International Conference on Autonomous Robot Systems and Competitions (ICARSC 2015), Villa Real, April 8- 12, 2015 [PDF] [BibTeX].
  7. Data Fusion for Relative Localization of Wireless Mobile Nodes. Carmelo Di Franco, Gianluca Franchino, and Mauro Marinoni. Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on Industrial Embedded Systems (SIES 2014), Pisa, June 18- 20, 2014 [PDF] [BibTeX].
    Best Paper Award Candidate
  8. Fusing Time-of-Flight and Received Signal Strength for Adaptive Radio-Frequency Ranging. Luis Oliveira, Carmelo Di Franco, Traian E. Abrudan,and Luis Almeida. Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Advanced Robotics (ICAR 2013), Montevideo, Uruguay, November 25- 29, 2013 [PDF] [BibTeX].
  9. Target-sensitive systems: Analysis and Implementation Issues. Giorgio Buttazzo, Carmelo Di Franco, and Mauro Marinoni. Proceedings of the 17th IEEE Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation (ETFA 2012), Cracow, Poland, September 17-21, 2012.[PDF] [BibTeX].

Other Research fields

  1. Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Vegetation Mapping and Identification of Botanical Species in Wetlands. Andrea Bertacchi, Vittoria Giannini, Carmelo Di Franco, Nicola Silvestri. Landscape and Ecological Engineering, 2018.
  2. Renaturation dynamics after the rewetting of a Mediterranean agricultural peatland. Vittoria Giannini, Andrea Bertacchi, Nicola Silvestri, Carmelo Di Franco,and Enrico Bonari. In SWS meeting European Chapter 2016: Wetland-Science and Society: Knowledge transfer, conservation conflicts and restoration management (pp. 1-2). European Chapter of the Society of Wetland Scientists. 2016


  1. RF-based Ranging for Mobile Robots: Using Time-of-Flight and RSSI for Channel Estimation. Luis Oliveira, Carmelo Di Franco, Traian E. Abrudan, and Luis Almeida. WiP at 2nd PhD. Studends conference in electrical and computer engineering (StudECE 2013) - Oporto, Portugal, June 2013

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