Past Events

Date/Time Event Description
28 Mar 2017
2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Talks: By Professor Fumiya Iida & By Professor Robert J. Full
EPFL, Lausanne Suisse
Talks: Model-free design optimization of soft robots: Any hope? By Professor Fumiya Iida (Cambridge Univ.), (14:30 – 15:30). BioMotion Science: Leapin’ Lizards, Compressed Cockroaches and Smart Squirrels Inspire Robots By...
30 Sep – 7 Jan 2016
All Day
The origami robot Tribot from Paik lab is currently at the exhibition in +Ultra Knowledge & Gestaltung in Berlin

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Quantifying information transfer through a head attached vibrotactile display: principles for design and control

  • Authors: Dobrzynski, Michal; Mejri, Seifeddine; Wischmann, Steffen; Floreano, Dario

Vibrotactile displays can extend the perception capabilities of visually impaired persons. Placing such devices on the head promises easy attachment and detachment without reducing other interaction abilities. However, the effectiveness of head-attached vibrotactile displays has never been thoroughly tested. This paper presents the results obtained from experiments with 22 subjects equipped with a display containing 12 cointype motors equally-spaced in a horizontal plane around the upper head region. Our display allowed single- as well as multimotor activation with up to six simultaneously active motors. We identified the minimum and comfort strength of vibrotactile stimulation, measured the precision in perceiving the accurate number of active motors as well as the precision in localizing the stimuli on the head. While subjects identified the correct number of active motors in 94% of the cases when presented with only one active motor, this precision dropped to 40% for two, down to 5% for five simultaneously active motors. This strongly suggests to avoid multi-point stimulation even though the precision of localizing a position of a stimulus on the head is barely affected by the number of simultaneously active motors. Localization precision, however, varied significantly with the region of the head suggesting that the most front and most back regions of the head should be avoided if high precision is required.

Posted on: March 14, 2012

Soft Cell Simulator: A tool to study Soft Multi-Cellular Robots

  • Authors: Germann, Jürg Markus; Maesani, Andrea; Stöckli, Manuel; Floreano, Dario

Modular or multi-cellular robots hold the promise to adapt their morphology to task and environment. However, research in modular robotics has traditionally been limited to mechanically non-adaptive systems due to hard building blocks and rigid connection mechanisms. To improve adaptation and global flexibility, we suggest the use of modules made of soft materials. Thanks to recent advances in fabrication techniques the development of soft robots without spatial or material constraints is now possible. In order to exploit this vast design space, computer simulations are a time and cost-efficient tool. However, there is currently no framework available that allows studying the dynamics of soft multi-cellular systems. In this work, we present our simulation framework named Soft Cell Simulator (SCS) that enables to study both mechanical design parameters as well as control problems of soft multi-cellular systems in an time-efficient yet globally accurate manner. Its main features are: (i) high simulation speed to test systems with a large number of cells (real-time up to 100 cells), (ii) large non-linear deformations without module self-penetration, (iii) tunability of module softness (0-500 N/m), (iv) physics-based module connectivity, (v) variability of module shape using internal actuators. We present results that validate the plausibility of the simulated soft cells, the scalability as well as the usability of the simulator. We suggest that this simulator helps to master and leverage the potential of the vast design space to generate novel soft multi-cellular robots.

Posted on: January 27, 2014

Soft Cells for Programmable Self-Assembly of Robotic Modules

  • Authors: Germann, Jürg Markus; Maesani, Andrea; Pericet Camara, Ramon; Floreano, Dario

Programmable self-assembly of chained robotic systems holds potential for the automatic construction of complex robots from a minimal set of building blocks. However, current robotic platforms are limited to modules of uniform rigidity, which results in a limited range of obtainable morphologies and thus functionalities of the system. To address these challenges, we investigate in this paper the role of softness in a programmed self-assembling chain system. We rely on a model system consisting of “soft cells” as modules that can obtain different mechanical softness presettings. Starting from a linear chain configuration, the system self-folds into a target morphology based on the intercellular interactions. We systematically investigate the influence of mechanical softness of the individual cells on the self-assembly process. Also, we test the hypothesis that a mixed distribution of cells of different softness enhances the diversity of achievable morphologies at a given resolution compared to systems with modules of uniform rigidity. Finally, we illustrate the potential of our system by the programmable self-assembly of complex and curvilinear morphologies that state-of-the-art systems can only achieve by significantly increasing their number of modules.

Posted on: June 23, 2014

Soft Pneumatic Gelatin Actuator for Edible Robotics

  • Authors: Shintake, Jun; Sonar, Harshal Arun; Piskarev, Egor; Paik, Jamie; Floreano, Dario

We present a fully edible pneumatic actuator based on gelatin-glycerol material. The actuator is monolithic, fabricated via a molding process, and measures 90 mm in length, 20 mm in width, and 17 mm in thickness. Thanks to the material mechanical characteristics similar to those of silicone elastomers, the actuator exhibits a bending angle of 170.3 degrees and a blocked force of 0.34 N at the applied pressure of 25 kPa. These values are comparable to elastomer based pneumatic actuators. As a validation example, two actuators are integrated to form a gripper capable of handling various objects, highlighting the high performance and applicability of the edible actuator. These edible actuators, combined with other recent edible materials and electronics, could lay the foundation for a new type of edible robots.

Posted on: October 3, 2017

Soft Robotics: Challenges and Perspectives

  • Authors: Iida, Fumiya; Laschi, Cecilia

There has been an increasing interest in the use of unconventional materials and morphologies in robotic systems because the underlying mechanical properties (such as body shapes, elasticity, viscosity, softness, density and stickiness) are crucial research topics for our in-depth understanding of embodied intelligence. The detailed investigations of physical system-environment interactions are particularly important for systematic development of technologies and theories of emergent adaptive behaviors. Based on the presentations and discussion in the Future Emerging Technology (fet11) conference, this article introduces the recent technological development in the field of soft robotics, and speculates about the implications and challenges in the robotics and embodied intelligence research. (C) Selection and peer-review under responsibility of FET11 conference organizers and published by Elsevier B.V.

Posted on: June 28, 2012

Stretchable Electroadhesion for Soft Robots

  • Authors: Germann, Jürg Markus; Schubert, Bryan Edward; Floreano, Dario

With the ongoing rise of soft robots there emerges a need for new soft robotic technologies that can cope with hyper-flexibility and stretchability. In this paper, we describe our developments on enabling controllable adhesion, namely electroadhesion, for the use in soft robots. We present a method to manufacture stretchable electroadhesive pads and characterize their performance when stretching the pad more than double its original length. Our results suggest that the normal detachment force per area slightly decreases with the stretching, while the shear detachment force per area increase with the stretch ratio. These results imply that stretchable electroadhesive pads have higher adaptivity to a given task compared to non-stretchable pads, because the stretchable pads are adaptable in terms of their mechanical stiffness as well as their adhesive force.

Posted on: May 19, 2014

Stretchable pumps for soft machines

  • Authors: Cacucciolo, Vito; Shintake, Jun; Kuwajima, Yu; Maeda, Shingo; Floreano, Dario; Shea, Herbert

Machines made of soft materials bridge life sciences and engineering. Advances in soft materials have led to skin-like sensors and muscle-like actuators for soft robots and wearable devices. Flexible or stretchable counterparts of most key mechatronic components have been developed, principally using fluidically driven systems. other reported mechanisms include electrostatic, stimuli-responsive gels and thermally responsive …

Posted on: August 23, 2019