All workshops will be held on the same day, April 24, 2018.

Morning session: 9:00-13:00, with synchronized coffee break (10:30-11:00)

Afternoon session: 14:00-18:00, with synchronized coffee break (16:00-16:30)

WS1 (Full day) - Fluid-driven soft robots: a collaborative workshop

WS1 website


Vito Cacucciolo

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne - Switzerland

Francesco Giorgio Serchi

University of Southampton, UK

Shingo Maeda

Shibaura Institute of Technology, Japan

Fluid-driven soft robots have gathered wide recognition in the robotics community because of the performances they enable as well as for the challenging physics involved in their modelling and control. Fluidic actuators are capable of producing large forces over extensive stroke-length while offering robustness and ease of implementation. The employment of this technology across several fields of application requires that a range of novel exciting scientific challenges are dealt with. This workshop aims to be a dialogue about fluid-driven soft robots between researchers involved in fluid-(soft)structure interaction and researchers working on soft actuators. We identified two main topics respectively divided in focused sub-themes: (1) scalability and (2) application domains. The former entails the challenges associated with the scaling laws that regulate the interaction between the fluid and the structure as well as the techniques to exploit fluid-driven technology over different size-scales. The latter encompasses the efforts to employ fluid-driven compliant technologies in diverse practical scenarios. Scientists who contributed to the development of novel actuators or to the study of the physics entailed with them will have the chance to take part in a highly focused and application-driven discussion on the challenges and future development of this fascinating and promising field.

WS2 (Full day) - Towards Soft Perceptive Robots: From Robotic and Biologically-Inspired Solutions, To Soft Sensing Technologies

WS2 website


Lucia Beccai

Italian Institute of Technology - Italy

Kathryn Daltorio

Case Western Reserve University, US

Exteroception and proprioception are crucial to enable soft robots to discover and react to their surroundings. Through the sense of touch, external cues (e.g. mechanical) must be perceived while dealing with exploratory movements, grasping and manipulation of unknown objects. At the same time, body movements in space must be known in order to provide spatial context to exploration and to underlie control policies. All this is highly challenging since the body deforms and adapts to the exterior during movement, leading to a strong interplay among the actuation mechanics of soft bodies, the sensing morphology and functionality, and the soft robotic interaction with the environment. In this workshop, we aim to gather scientists from various fields (including material science, robotics, biology, and engineering) to discuss bio-inspired approaches, robotic strategies and sensing solutions towards the development of perceptive soft robots. Collaborative discussions will help to shed light on new strategies for filling the gap between the results at component level and what is still missing at robotic level. With the aid of live demos and prototypes, new approaches can be suggested to shape future steps in the field.

WS3 (Full day) - Soft-bodied structures in nature and robotics: towards new trends and opportunities

WS3 website


Barbara Mazzolai

Italian Institute of Technology - Italy

Robert Shepherd

Cornell University, US

The study and the extraction of biological key principles, and their translation in design guidelines for a new generation of robots and technological solutions, have been widely adopted in the biomimetics and bionics fields. Biologically inspired approaches have traditionally been widely adopted in robotics, as well. Robots that implement solutions inspired by nature show capabilities that permit adaptive, flexible interactions with unpredictable environments. Consequently, in the goal to mimic living beings, the different components of an artificial system have to be designed from models of the reference biological systems, in an integrated way, making explicit the general design principles underlying the embodiment. The next generation of robots will be “soft”, because this better allows the interaction with environment, mediated by body, as in natural systems. Advances in “soft technology” will lead to a quantum leap in intelligent robotics. With this workshop, we wish to contribute to the discussion on the development of bioinspired soft robots, not just as robotic systems implementing solutions inspired by nature, but as platforms for biological studies: building a bioinspired robot allows thoroughly understanding the biomechanics, control, perception, and behavior of the reference living system. Mimicking animals, or plants and even microorganisms, requires deep investigation of new materials, bio-mechanisms, sensors, actuators, and control schemes and can lead to breakthrough advances of robotics technologies.

WS4 (Full day) - Modelling and Control of Soft Robotic Manipulators

WS4 website


Egidio Falotico

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna - Italy

Thomas Thuruthel

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna - Italy

Federico Renda

Khalifa University of Science and Technology - UAE

Yasmin Ansari

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna - Italy

Christian Duriez

Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique - France

Inspired from boneless biological organisms such as tentacles, soft robotic manipulators are a new range of continuum manipulators made up of soft materials. They are able to: (i) undergo a large deformation under normal operation which is a precursor for adaptive behavior in natural environments. This is ideal for safe human-robot; (ii) simplify a wide range of well-known complex tasks and; (iii) exhibit highly dexterous motion within the reachable workspace. These desirable characteristics are the fundamental reasons behind their rapidly increasing demand in key economic sectors. However, their practical application depends upon the development of real-time kinematic/dynamic models and controllers that facilitate real-time, accurate, and robust control. This workshop aims to provide an insight into the various methodologies for modeling and control of soft robotic manipulators as a guideline for future applications in the soft robotics field. Alongside the presentations, a dedicated tutorial for the SOFA platform for modelling, simulation and control of soft robots will be conducted with a hands-on-session for the participants.

WS5 (Half day - Morning Session) - Soft Robotics at Small Scales - Robotic Functionalities by Soft and Smart Materials

WS5 website


Gioia Lucarini

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna - Italy

Stefano Palagi

Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems - Germany

Small-scale robotics is a very challenging field of robotics, as no traditional components, such as mechanisms, motors, sensors, and controllers, are available. So far, researchers have developed microrobots that consisted of small rigid objects precisely navigated by external fields, or, alternatively, they have harvested biological cells and exploited their sensing, actuation, and computation capabilities. Only recently, soft and smart materials have started entering the field of small-scale robotics, substituting for mechanisms, sensors, and actuators. Therefore, this ‘soft microrobotics’ approach currently represents the most promising route towards the development of fully artificial, self-contained robots at such small scales. Soft microrobots can be externally controlled, exhibiting enhanced functionality and adaptability with respect to their rigid counterparts. In addition, they can be endowed with autonomous (reactive) behaviours by building them with stimuli-responsive materials. These basic robotic functionalities and autonomous behaviours represent the first steps towards intelligent soft robots at small scales. Inspired by microorganisms, which show intelligent behaviours despite having no brain or nervous system, intelligence in small-scale robots could be achieved by means of the soft matter that constitutes them.

WS6 (Half day - Morning Session) - Soft Tensegrity Robotics Workshop

WS6 website


Davide Zappetti

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne - Switzerland

John Rieffel

Union College - US

One of the outstanding obstacles to exploring the challenges of the emerging field of soft robotics is the relative lack of lowcost entrylevel investigative model systems. The purpose of this workshop is to introduce tensegrity structures as a compelling substrate for soft robotics research. Tensegrities are relatively simple to design and fabricate, and yet they present all the same challenges and pathologies of more conventionally soft robots. Most valuably, they are incredibly modular, requiring few few distinct parts, and allowing them to scale quite well in complexity. This workshop will provide participants with an overview of tensegrity structures and tensegritybased robotics, and then provide participants with a handson experience building and controlling tensegritybased soft robots.

WS7 (Half day - Afternoon Session) - Open Soft Robotics Platforms – How soft technologies can enhance our daily life?
Role of open hardware platforms

WS7 website


Youngah Seong

The University of Tokyo - Japan

Ryuma Niiyama

The University of Tokyo - Japan

Donal Holland

University College Dublin - Ireland

Conor J. Walsh

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences - US

Yoshihiro Kawahara

The University of Tokyo - Japan

In recent years, as an open hardware platform on soft robot, the approach has been diversified from tutorials for beginners to projects for business. These platforms have different purposes, such as education, research and development, and they all are expected to share the knowledge and enhance our daily life. In this workshop, we will discuss the followings and more to amplify and maximize the effect of platforms. First, we will share what each platform has done so far, for example, features, knowhow, impact on society, contribution to the field, etc. Second, we will discuss how to seamlessly bridge those knowledge on soft robot and materials. With respect of each platform’s approach and features, while trying hard at the goal of each platform, it is important to complement the functions to broaden communities across the designers, engineers, scientists and makers. Finally, what could be built further in cooperation not only the level of information? For example, developing kit and standardized WS methodology for education, or consulting for companies to provide enterprise production solutions could be considered. Through these discussions, we think that we can get an inspiration, explore the possibilities and broaden the future prospects of the soft robot fields.

WS8 (Half day - Afternoon Session) - Soft haptics: what has been done and what can be done

WS8 website


Van Ho

Japan Adv. Inst. of Science and Tech. - Japan

Matteo Bianchi

University of Pisa, Italy

Not until recently has the materials’ softness been utilized in realization of efficient haptic devices, including soft tactile sensors, soft haptic interfaces, and interaction with surroundings; however, with the emerge of soft robotic research, where morphology (characterized by geometrical and mechanical properties) may act as computation means, there exists a paradigm shift in design of soft haptic devices from principle-oriented to embodiment-oriented norms. Generally speaking, conventional haptic devices attempted to seek for novel sensing principles with fine fabrication processes; whereas soft haptic devices tend to quest for reliable structure for assessing different interactive tasks by variation of its own morphology. As a result, soft haptics device should detect not only its internal deformation, but also well aware of its body in interaction with its environment. This is also a key challenge in soft robotics, where interdisciplinary studies in materials science, electro-mechanical design, modeling, perception, and so on need to be carried out to tackle this interesting issue. This workshop will encompass recent progress in the area of soft haptics for sensation and interaction from the perspective of soft embodiment, and attempt to shape future challenges in the field of soft haptics