IEEE ICRA Workshop on Soft and Stiffness-Controllable Robots for Minimally Invasive Surgery (May-June 2014)

This workshop aims to bring together medical experts active in the field of minimally invasive surgery and roboticists creating and studying soft and stiffness controllable robot devices. (Organizers: Prof Kaspar Althoefer, Dr. Thrish Nanayakkara, Dr. Helge Würdemann, and Dr. Emanuele Secco – King’s College London, UK). The topics include but not limited to surgical robots, soft robots, stiffness controllable robot systems, actuation and stiffening mechanism, granular jamming robots, biomimetic and bio-inspired device, and end user interface. For more detailed information, please click here.

List of confirmed speakers:

  • Prof Darwin Caldwell, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, IT
  • Prof Arianna Menciassi, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, IT
  • Prof Fumiya Lida, ETH Zurich, CH
  • Dr Alberto Arezzo, Universita’ di Torino, IT
  • Dr Chakravarthini Saaj, University of Surrey, UK
  • Prof Kaspar Althoefer, King’s College London, UK
  • Dr Thrishantha Nanayakkara, King’s College London, UK

Successfully Organized Soft Robotics Workshop at IROS (November 2013)

The IROS 2013 Soft Technologies for Wearable Robotics Workshop (Tokyo, November 7th) was a successful endeavor from the organizers Prof. Jamie Paik (EPFL chair), Prof. Fumiya Iida (ETH, co-chair), Prof. Rob Wood (Harvard University) and Liyu Wang (ETH).
The respected 15 speakers came mostly from Europe, the US and the host country Japan. This workshop was the first of soft robotics workshop in IROS while following the International Workshop on Soft Robotics and Morphological Computation held in Ticino this year. With the workshop focus on the application of the soft technologies, soft components such as sensors and actuators were highlighted along with simulation and control methods. The speakers also introduced the latest advances in the rehabilitation robots (both commercial and academic) with strong emphasis on the wearability, intuitive and “soft” interaction with the wearer. The workshop gathered a high audience participation rate throughout the full day program (around 65 audiences per talk), and we hope this workshop would continue to be a part of regular IROS topics. The speakers were later invited to the Swiss NCCR Robotics sponsored dinner at Tofuya Ukai with a full view of the Tokyo tower next to the traditional Japanese garden. The discussion on the soft robotics and its impact, influence and reception in the robotics community along with the amazing tofu dishes continued to flow until the roboticist had to close down the restaurant.


Journal: Actuators (ISSN 2076-0825)

Deadline: 16 December 2013

The use of soft/compliant elements is one of the oldest ways to store energy and was one of the few available to our ancestors. In ancient history they used it for their catapults and clocks and Da Vinci used his knowledge on springs to design one of the first automata driven by elastic energy. On the other hand, the start of automation/robotics was characterized with actuators that had to be as stiff as possible. For the future generation of robots however the advantages of stiff actuators like precision trajectory tracking, become less important compared to other requirements like energy efficiency, safety and force accuracy. Although recently several platforms using soft actuators like the robotic co-worker Baxter, BioRob arm, have been introduced on the market, the field of soft actuators faces still a number of fundamental scientific challenges and the optimal exploitation of their properties in applications need to be better understood. Therefore this special issue targets high quality
publications spanning the following topics:

  • design of novel soft actuators
  • force, motion and stiffness control
  • safety issues in physical human-robot interaction
  • energy efficiency
  • explosive motions like throwing, kicking,..
  • applications with strong focus on role on soft actuator
  • control and actuation of continuum and/or large DOF bodies

Special Issue Editors:

International Workshop on Soft Robotics and Morphological Computation, Monte Verita, Switzerland, July 14-19, 2013

The workshop brings together two recent and exciting trends in robotics, namely, Soft Robotics and Morphological Computation. Both are expected to play an important role to bring about substantially novel approaches and application in robotics research. Toward high impact achievements, the main objectives of the workshop is to bring together the leading scientists of these two exciting research areas from all over the world, and to present the state-of-the-art work for mutual inspiration. Enjoy the pictures here!

Organized sessions on Soft Robotics in International Conference on Biomedical Robotics (BioRob2012), June 24-27, 2012

Two sessions related to soft robotics were organized in BioRob 2012. This first session focused on soft robots as biologically inspired systems, modeling of soft robot, as well as soft robot locomotion and manipulation. The second session focused on smart materials and actuators for soft robotics. Organizers: Cecilia Laschi and Barbara Mazzolai.

Organized sessions on Smart Materials and Actuators for Soft robotics, in International Conference on Biomedical Robotics (BioRob2012), June 24-27, 2012

The second session in BioRob 2012 focused on smart materials and actuators for soft robotics, including its application for locomotion and manipulation. Organizers: Matteo Cianchetti and Virgilio Mattoli.

ETH Summer School on Soft Robotics, Zurich, Switzerland, June 18-22, 2012

This summer school gives an introduction into current issues and techniques in soft robotics research. More specifically, the lectures included mechanical fundamentals for soft robotics, modeling and simulation of soft bodies, soft actuators and deformable sensors and physical human robot interaction.

Special issue on “Soft Robotics” in Journal of Advanced Robotics 26(7), 2012

This special issue characterized the state of the art of soft robotics research. The topics covered included motion control in soft robots, control of continuum soft body, control challenge of flexible musculoskeletal body structures of robots, component technologies for soft robotics, and stiffness control for human robot interaction. Guest co-editors: Fumiya Iida, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Rolf Pfeifer and Koh Hosoda.

Special session on “Soft Robotics” at FET11 conference, Budapest, May 4-6, 2011

This session discussed how soft robotics had been developed in the last decade and what progress had been made. The topics included the use of soft and deformable materials, dynamic changes of morphology, and sensory motor control for gentle system environment interactions. Session organizer: Fumiya Iida.

Swiss-Japan Joint Seminar on “Soft Robotics: Morphology, materials, and functionalities”, University of Tokyo, June 20-23, 2010

The goal of this seminar was to bring together the leading scientists of soft robotics research in Switzerland and Japan, and to discuss strategic research collaborations. The seminar was attended by seven Swiss participants and twenty two Japanese participants, consisting of faculty members, young researchers and senior students.