Recent and Upcoming Activities

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: