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Nicolas FRANCESCHINI, France

Nicolas Franceschini was born in Mâcon, France. He graduated in electronics and control theory from the National Polytechnic Institute, Grenoble. In 1972 he received the Dr es Sciences in Physics from the University of Grenoble with a thesis on « micro-optics of the insect compound eye ». He switched to neuroscience and behavioral science, spending 13 years at the Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany. He then moved back to France where he set up the Neurocybernetics lab - and later the Biorobotics lab - at CNRS, Marseille. His research interests cover neural information processing, vision, eye movements, micro-optics, neuromorphic circuits, sensorymotor control systems, biologically inspired robots and insect inspired autopilots. Since 1985 he has contributed to the foundation of Biorobotics. Nicolas Franceschini received several national and international awards in both Neuroscience and Engineering. He is a member of the Academia europaea.

More information about Nicolas Franceschini

Address :


Biorobotics Lab, Institute of Movement Science

CNRS and Univ of the Mediterranean


Tel : (33) 6 26 47 01 21 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (33) 6 26 47 01 21 end_of_the_skype_highlighting and : (33) 4 91 82 83 65 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (33) 4 91 82 83 65 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Academic training

1964 : Diploma in Electronics, Polytechnic Institute, Grenoble, France

1965 : Diploma in Control Engineering, Polytechnic Institute, Grenoble

1965-1969 : University of Tübingen and PhD student, Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

1972 : Dr es Sciences in Physics, University of Grenoble


1971-1979 : Research Assistent, Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany

1979-2000 : Directeur de Recherche CNRS, INP, Marseille (Head of the Neurocybernetics Research Group)

2001-2009 : Directeur de Recherche CNRS, LMP, Marseille (Head of the Biorobotics Lab)

2009- : Directeur de Recherche  CNRS, Marseille (emeritus)

Visiting scientist

1969-1970 : Sherbrooke University, Canada, Dept of Electr. Engin. and School of Medicine

1973 : Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan

1977 : ANU, Canberra , Australia

1981 : Max-Planck Institut für Biologische Kybernetik, Tübingen, Germany

1982 : University of Ulm , Germany

1989 : Electro-Technical Laboratory (ETL), Tsukuba, Japan.

Editorial Boards

• Biological Cybernetics

• Adaptive Behavior

• Cognitive Neurodynamics

Honors & Awards

• 2008 : Grand Prize of Integrative Neuroscience (Prix FOULON) (French Academy of Science)

• 2005 : « La Recherche » Interdisciplinary prize (co-laureates: Stéphane VIOLLET & Franck RUFFIER)

• 1996 :  Elected Member of the Academia Europaea (Physiology & Medicine)

• 1992 : International Prize LOUIS VUITTON-MOET-HENNESSY (LVMH) (co-laureates : Richard AXEL & Linda BUCK, 2004 NOBEL Prize winners in Physiology & Medicine)

• 1989 : Molecular Biology Section Prize, French Academy of Science (prix CHARLES-LOUIS DE SAULCES DE FREYCINET)

• 1985 : CNRS silver Medal in Life Science

Selected Papers

Kerhuel, L., Viollet, S., Franceschini, N. (2010)

Steering by gazing : an efficient biomimetic control strategy for visually guided micro vehicles

IEEE Transactions on Robotics 26 : 307-319

Franceschini, N. (2009)

Towards automatic visual guidance of aerospace vehicles : from insects to robots

Acta Futura 3 : 15-34

Franceschini, N., Ruffier, F., Serres, J. (2009)

Insects autopilots : Obstacle avoidance and speed control in insects and micro-aerial vehicles

In: Flying Insects and Robots

Floreano, D., Zufferey, J.C., Srinivasan, M.V., and Ellington C. (Eds.), Springer, Berlin, Chapt. 3, pp. 29-50

Serres, J., Dray, D.,  Ruffier, F., Franceschini, N. (2008)

A vision-based autopilot for a miniature air vehicle: joint speed control and lateral obstacle avoidance.

Autonomous Robots 25 : 103-122

Franceschini, N., Ruffier, F., Serres, J. (2007) A bio-inspired flying robot sheds light on insect piloting abilities

Current Biology 17 : 329-335

Ruffier, F.,  Franceschini, N.  (2005)

Optic flow regulation : the key to aircraft automatic guidance

Robotics and Autonomous Systems 50 : 177-194.

Franceschini, N. (2004)

Visual guidance based on optic flow : a biorobotic approach

J. Physiology (Paris) 98 : 281-292.

Viollet, S., Franceschini, N. (2001)

Aerial Minirobot that Stabilizes and Tracks with a Bio-Inspired Visual Scanning


In: Biorobotics, (B. Webb and T. Consi, eds.), MIT Press, Cambridge, USA, pp. 67-83

Franceschini, N. (1996)

Engineering Applications of Small Brains

Future Electron Devices Journal (FED) 7, suppl. 2 : 38-52.

N. Aoki and I. Masaki (Eds.) Seikei University, Tokyo, Japan, pp. 47-52.

Franceschini, N., Pichon, J.M., Blanes, C. (1992)

From insect vision to robot vision

Phil. Transactions Royal Society B 337 : 283-294.

Franceschini, N., Riehle, A., Le Nestour, A. (1989)

Directionally selective motion detection by insect neurons

In: Facets of Vision

D.G. Stavenga and R.C. Hardie (Eds), Springer, Berlin, Germany, pp. 360-39

Wilcox, M., Franceschini, N. (1984)

Illumination induces dye incorporation in photoreceptor cells

Science 225 : 851-854

Franceschini, N., Kirschfeld, K., Minke, B. (1981)

Fluorescence of photoreceptor cells observed in vivo

Science 213 : 1264-1267

Kirschfeld, K., Franceschini, N., Minke, B. (1977)

Evidence for a sensitising pigment in fly photoreceptors

Nature 269 : 386-390

Franceschini, N. (1975)

Sampling of the visual environment by the compound eye of the fly: Fundamentals and         applications.

In: Photoreceptor Optics

A.W. Snyder and R. Menzel (Eds), Springer, Berlin, Germany, pp. 98-125