Soft Robotics at Small Scales

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.

Confirmed talks

Jessica Burgner-Kahrs
Leibniz Universtität Hannover, Germany
“Perspectives of Continuum Robotics”
David H. Gracias
John Hopkins University, USA
“Untethered soft-bots controlled by temperature and DNA”
Daniele Martella
University of Florence, Italy
“3D printed optically driven microrobots”
Bradley Nelson
ETH Zürich, Switzerland
“Soft Microrobotics and Applications in Medicine”
Yizhar Or
Technion, Israel
“Nonlinear parametric excitation effect induces stability transitions in swimming direction of flexible superparamagnetic microswimmers”
Kanty Rabenorosoa
ENSMM, France
“Development of Continuum Soft Robots at Small Scales”
Oliver G. Schmidt
IFW Dresden, Germany
“Smart and soft motile microbots”
Metin Sitti
MPI for Intelligent Systems, Germany
“Magnetic soft milli/microrobots”
Lorenzo Vannozzi
Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy
“Muscle cell-based bio-hybrid actuators”
Guang-Zhong Yang
Imperial College London, UK