Collection of soft robotics lectures from SoftRobot 2013 at Monte Verità

Collection of soft robotics lectures from ETH Summer School on Soft Robotics 2012


(Hosted by ShanghAI Lectures)


Review and perspective

Opinions and outlooks on morphological computation (Book's ISBN: 978-3-033-04515-6, 2014)

Soft robotics on the move: Scientific networks, activities, and future challenges (Soft Robotics, June 2014)

Cognition from the bottom up: on biological inspiration, body morphology, and soft materials (Trends Cogn. Sci., May 2014)

Soft robotics: new perspectives for robot bodyware and control (Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol., January 2014)

Soft manipulation

Learning object deformation models for robot motion planning (Robot. Auton. Syst., August 2014)

Dynamic model of a multibending soft robot arm driven by cables (IEEE Trans. Robot, June 2014)

Mechanics modeling of multisegment rod-driven continuum robots (J. Mech. Robot., June 2014)

An efficient static analysis of continuum robots  (J. Mech. Robot., April 2014)

Actuation Torque Reduction in Parallel Robots Using Joint Compliance (J. Mechanisms Robotics, March 2014)

Model-based shape estimation for soft robotic manipulators: The planar case  (J. Mechanisms Robotics, March 2014)

Grasping deformable planar objects: Squeeze, stick/slip analysis, and energy-based optimalities (Int. J. Robot. Res., February 2014)

Soft locomotion

Energy efficiency in friction-based locomotion mechanisms for soft and hard robots: Slower can be faster (Nonlinear Dynamics, August 2014)

Movable shark scales act as a passive dynamic micro-roughness to control flow separation (Bioinspir. Biomim., July 2014)

Three-dimensionally printed biological machines powered by skeletal muscle (PNAS, June 2014)

Continuously distributed magnetization profile for millimeter-scale elastomeric undulatory swimming (Appl. Phys. Lett., April 2014)

Study of flexible fin and compliant joint stiffness on propulsive performance: theory and experiments (Bioinspir. Biomim ., April 2014)

Flytrap-inspired robot using structurally integrated actuation based on bistability and developable surface (Bioinspir. Biomim., March 2014)

A dragline-forming mobile robot inspired by spiders (Bioinspir. Biomim. , January 2014)

Biological clockwork underlying adaptive rhytmic movements (PNAS, January 2014)

Influence of surface traction on soft robot undulation (Int. J. Robot. Res., Nov. 2013)

A bioinspired autonomous swimming robot as a tool for studying goal-directed locomotion (Biol. Cybern., Oct. 2013)

Soft sensing, electronic skin

SVAS3: Strain vector aided sensorization of soft structures (Sensors, July 2014) 

Soft microfluidic assemblies of sensors, circuits, and radios for the skin (Science, April 2014)

Hand shape classification with a wrist contour sensor: analysis of feature types, resemblance between subjects and data variation with pronation angle (Int. J. Robot. Res., February 2014) 

Design of a flexible tactile sensor for classification of rigid and deformable objects (Robot Auton Syst., January 2014)

Detection and prevention of slip using sensors with different properties embedded in elastic artificial skin on the basis of previous experience (Robot Auton Syst., January 2014)

A psychophysical evaluation of haptic controllers: viscosity perception of soft environments (Robotica, January 2014)

Surface tension and contact with soft elastic solids (Nat Commun., Nov. 2013)

Fluid–structure interaction-based biomechanical perception model for tactile sensing (PLoS ONE, Nov. 2013)

Soft-matter electronics, stretchable electronics

Mechanically adaptive organic transistors for implantable electronics (Adv. Mater., April 2014)

Extremely compliant and highly stretchable patterned graphene (Appl. Phys. Lett., April 2014)

Fractal design concepts for stretchable electronics (Nat Commun., February 2014)

Multiscale instabilities in soft heterogeneous dielectric elastomers (Proc. R. Soc. A, December 2013)

Soft actuator, flexible actuator, compliant actuator

Bioinspired soft actuation system using Shape Memory Alloys (Actuators, July 2014)

Mechanics modeling of multisegment rod-driven continuum robots (J. Mechanisms Robotics, June 2014),

Kinematic, stiffness, and dynamic analyses of a compliant tensegrity mechanism (J. Mechanisms Robotics, June 2014)

Fluid–structure interaction in compliant insect wings (Bioinspir. Biomim., May 2014)

How wing kinematics affect power requirements and aerodynamic force production in a robotic bat wing  (Bioinspir. Biomim., May 2014)

Pneumatic torsional actuators for inflatable robots  (J. Mech. Robot., April 2014)

Thermoplastic variable stiffness composites with embedded, networked sensing, actuation, and control (J. Compos. Mater., March 2014)

Artificial muscles from fishing line and sewing thread (Science, February 2014)

Piecewise affine modeling and constraint optimal control for a pneumatic artificial muscle (IEEE T. Ind. Electron., February 2014)

A bio-inspired multi degree of freedom actuator based on a novel cylindrical ionic polymer–metal composite material (Robot Auton Syst., January 2014)

Artificial heartbeat: design and fabrication of a biologically inspired pump (Bioinspir. Biomim., Nov. 2013) 

Soft robot application

Soft robotics technologies to address shortcomings in today’s minimally invasive surgery: The STIFF-FLOP approach (Soft Robotics, June 2014)

A pilot study of a continuum shoulder exoskeleton for anatomy adaptive assistances (J. Mechanisms Robotics, June 2014)

Behavior characteristics of manual alpation to localize hard nodules in soft tissues (IEEE Trans Biomed Eng, June 2014)

A new hybrid actuation scheme with artificial pneumatic muscles and a magnetic particle brake for safe human-robot collaboration  (Int. J. Robot. Res., February 2014)

Robotic catheter cardiac ablation combining ultrasound guidance and force control (Int. J. Robot. Res., February 2014)

Targeted delivery: An integrated microrobotic platform for on-demand, targeted therapeutic interventions (Adv. Mater., February 2014)

Development and characterisation of a new bioink for additive tissue manufacturing (J. Mater. Chem. B., February 2014)

Design and control of a bio-inspired soft wearable robotic device for ankle–foot rehabilitation (Bioinspir. Biomim. , January 2014)

Robotics and neuroprosthetics – Smaller, softer, safer, smarter Robots (Sci. Transl. Med. – editorial, Nov. 2013)

Self organization, morphological change, morphological computation

Morphological computation principles as a new paradigm for robotic design (In Opinions and Outlooks on Morphological Computation, ISBN: 978-3-033-04515-6, 2014)

Combining environment-driven adaptation and task-driven optimization in evolutionary robotics (PLoS ONE, June 2014) 

Guided self-organization in a dynamic embodied system based on attractor selection mechanism (Entropy, May 2014)

SoftCubes: stretchable and self-assembling three-dimensional soft modular matter (Int. J. Robot Res., May 2014)

Untethered micro-robotic coding of three-dimensional material composition (Nat Commun., January 2014)

A three-dimensional analysis of morphological evolution and locomotor performance of the carnivoran forelimb (PLoS ONE, January 2014)

Active sensing system with in situ adjustable sensor morphology (PLoS ONE, December 2013)

The magneto-elastica: from self-buckling to self-assembly (Proc. R. Soc. A, December 2013)

Guided hierarchical co-assembly of soft patchy nanoparticles (Nature, Nov. 2013)

Understanding collective dynamics of soft active colloids by binary scattering (Phys. Rev. E, Nov. 2013)

Engineering particle trajectories in microfluidic flows using particle shape (Nat Commun., Nov. 2013)

Understanding collective dynamics of soft active colloids by binary scattering (Phys. Rev. E, Nov. 2013)

Shape transitions in soft spheres regulated by elasticity (Phys. Rev. E, Nov 2013)

Growing robots

A novel growing device inspired by plant root soil penetration behaviors (PLoS ONE, February 2014)

Growing and evolving soft robots (Artificial Life, Winter 2014)

Foldable robots

Folding robots and metamaterials (Science, August 2014)

A method for building self-folding machines (Science, August 2014)

Using origami design principles to fold reprogrammable mechanical metamaterials (Science, August 2014)

Folding structures out of flat materials (Science, August 2014)

Biological studies

Self-recognition mechanism between skin and suckers prevents octopus arms from interfering with each other (Curr. Biol., June 2014)

Structural origins of morphing in plant tissues (Appl. Phys. Lett., June 2014)

Soft tissue artefacts of the human back: comparison of the sagittal curvature of the spine measured using skin markers and an open upright MRI (PLoS ONE, April 2014)

The morphometry of soft tissue insertions on the Tibial Plateau: data acquisition and statistical shape analysis (PLoS ONE, May 2014)

Hairy suckers: the surface microstructure and its possible functional significance in the Octopus vulgaris sucker (Beilstein J NAnotech, May 2014)

Models for elastic shells with incompatible strains (Proc. R. Soc. A, March 2014)

In vivo time-resolved microtomography reveals the mechanics of the blowfly flight motor (PLoS Biology, March 2014)

How insect flight steering muscles work (PLoS Biology, March 2014)

Structure and mechanical properties of Octopus vulgaris sucker (J. R. Soc. Interface, February 2014)

The passive properties of muscle fibers are velocity dependent (J. Biomech., February 2014)

Generalized mathematical representation of the soft tissue artefact (J. Biomech., January 2014)

Modular organization of axial microcircuits in zebrafish (Science, January 2014)

Pressure–induced cell wall instability and growth oscillations in pollen tubes (PLoS ONE, Nov. 2013)

The limits on trypanosomatid morphological diversity (PLoS ONE, Nov. 2013)

Choose your weapon: defensive behavior is associated with morphology and performance in scorpions (PLoS ONE, Nov. 2013).

Indentation quantification for in-liquid nanomechanical measurement of soft material using an atomic force microscope: Rate-dependent elastic modulus of live cells (Phys. Rev. E, Nov. 2013) 

Stiffness dependent separation of cells in a microfluidic device (PLoS ONE, Nov. 2013)

C. elegans sensing of and entrainment along obstacles require different neurons at different body locations (Scientific Reports, Oct. 2013)

A generalized approach to the modeling and analysis of 3D surface morphology in organisms (PLoS ONE, Oct. 2013)

Analysis of initial cell spreading using mechanistic contact formulations for a deformable cell model (PLoS Comp. Biol., Oct. 2013)


(Supported by: IEEE RAS Technical Committee on Soft Robotics)

Open Source Tools

Contributions from RoboSoft Community Members

Hot Glue Kit

Hot Glue Kit is a complete toolkit which includes hot melt adhesives (HMAs) to build complex shaped soft robot structures, wireless controlled tendon driving actuator modules for soft actuation, and a SimMechanics library to simulate the robots built with the kit. It allows fast and easy soft robot prototyping, which leaves room for further iterations of designs based on observed unexpected soft robot behaviors.

Hot Glue Kit Webpage


Dielectric Elastomer Actuators

Dielectric Elastomer Actuators (DEAs) are compliant Electroactive Polymers that can produce very large areal strains and have very high power densities.  In this worksheet we make and test planar disk DEAs, using 3M VHB dielectric elastomer and conductive carbon grease electrodes.  The techniques involved can be readily extended to more complex actuator structures.  Different actuator behaviours can be created by changing the pattern of the electrodes.


Granular jamming and Flexible fluidic actuators

Hands-on sessions on the development of simple Flexible Fluidic Actuators and of basic devices which exploit the granular jamming phenomenon.



SVAS3 is strain vector aided sensorization of soft structures. We propose a design method which generates sensor morphologies to sense deformation in soft material by using a functional material called conductive thermoplastic elastomer (CTPE).

SVAS3 Webpage


Morphological computation simulation

This toolkit provides a set of Matlab functions related to morphological computation and feedback roles on compliant robots.

MoCo Simulation Webpage


Simulations of hopping robot with elastic continuum body

Matlab simulation files for the "C" and "U" shaped hopping robots that are made out of continuum elastic bodies.


 Contributions from other groups


A cross-platform open source voxel modeling and analyzing software, which allows simulations with large deformations, collision detection, multiple materials and volumetric actuation.

VoxCad Webpage



Is a Massive Online Open Course devoted to the Evolutionary Robotics, where users can learn, play and propose educational challenges.

Ludobots Webpage


Soft Robotics Toolkits

The Soft Robotics Toolkit is a collection of shared resources to support the design, fabrication, modeling, characterization, and control of soft robotic devices.

Soft Robotics Toolkits Webpage




Soft Robotics: Trends, Applications and Challenges 

The book with the proceedings of the Soft Robotics Week published by Springer





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