Soft Robotics

Our work spans a full suite of soft robotic technologies such as soft manipulators, grippers, underwater and biomimetic robots for application to industry, healthcare, and extreme environments. In this regard, we conduct research on the development of novel soft actuation methods, sensing technologies, and control techniques. (See also SAPHIR.)

image: octopus

Soft actuators and manipulators

We explore novel designs and fabrication techniques for creating soft robots using silicones, fabrics, 3d printed materials, and origami-inspired structures.

Academics: Kaspar Althoefer, Ketao Zhang

Recent publications:

  • Fras, J., Glowka, J. and Althoefer, K., 2020, May. Instant soft robot: A simple recipe for quick and easy manufacturing. In 2020 3rd IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft) (pp. 482-488). IEEE.
  • Ataka Ahmad, Taqi Abrar, Fabrizio Putzu, Hareesh Godaba, and Kaspar Althoefer. "Model-based Pose Control of Inflatable Eversion Robot with Variable Stiffness." IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters 5, no. 2 (2020): 3398-3405.
  • Hareesh Godaba, Fabrizio Putzu, Taqi Abrar, Jelizaveta Konstantinova, and Kaspar Althoefer. "Payload capabilities and operational limits of eversion robots." In Annual Conference Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems, pp. 383-394. Springer, Cham, 2019.
  • Konstantinova Jelizaveta, Ali Shafti, and Kaspar Althoefer, eds. Soft and Stiffness-controllable Robotics Solutions for Minimally Invasive Surgery: The STIFF-FLOP Approach. River Publishers, 2018. (Book)
  • Kaspar Althoefer. "Antagonistic actuation and stiffness control in soft inflatable robots." Nature Reviews Materials 3, no. 6 (2018): 76.
  • Jan Fras, Mateusz Macias, Yohan Noh, and Kaspar Althoefer. "Fluidical bending actuator designed for soft octopus robot tentacle." In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), pp. 253-257. IEEE, 2018.
  • Ketao Zhang, and Kaspar Althoefer. "Designing origami-adapted deployable modules for soft continuum arms." In Annual Conference Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems, pp. 138-147. Springer, Cham, 2019.

More information about our work on soft robotics and videos of our work can be found on ARQ youtube channel and personal webpages of our researchers:

Soft sensing

We develop novel technologies for sensorizing soft actuators and robots. Over the years, we have developed optical fibre based sensors for shape sensing in soft manipulators, force and proximity sensors for soft interaction, and soft electronic skins for proprioception and exteroception in soft robots.

Academics: Kaspar Althoefer, Lorenzo Jamone

Recent publications:

  • Hareesh Godaba, Ivan Vitanov, Faisal Aljaber, Ahmad Ataka, and Kaspar Althoefer. "A bending sensor insensitive to pressure: soft proprioception based on abraded optical fibres." In 2020 3rd IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), pp. 104-109. IEEE, 2020.
  • Wanlin Li, Jelizaveta Konstantinova, Yohan Noh, Zixiang Ma, Akram Alomainy, and Kaspar Althoefer. "An elastomer-based flexible optical force and tactile sensor." In 2019 2nd IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft), pp. 361-366. IEEE, 2019.
  • Shan Luo, Wenxuan Mou, Kaspar Althoefer, and Hongbin Liu. "iCLAP: Shape recognition by combining proprioception and touch sensing." Autonomous Robots 43, no. 4 (2019): 993-1004.
  • Alexis C Holgado, Javier A. Alvarez Lopez, Alexander Schmitz, Tito Pradhono Tomo, Sophon Somlor, Lorenzo Jamone, and Shigeki Sugano. "An adjustable force sensitive sensor with an electromagnet for a soft, distributed, digital 3-axis skin sensor." In 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pp. 2582-2588. IEEE, 2018.
  • Tito Pradhono Tomo, Massimo Regoli, Alexander Schmitz, Lorenzo Natale, Harris Kristanto, Sophon Somlor, Lorenzo Jamone, Giorgio Metta, and Shigeki Sugano. "A new silicone structure for uSkin—A soft, distributed, digital 3-axis skin sensor and its integration on the humanoid robot iCub." IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters 3, no. 3 (2018): 2584-2591.