Enabling closed-loop control of robotic systems remains a clear challenge in soft robotics. Obtaining autonomy and going beyond open-loop control requires integrating sensors within these soft-bodied systems to provide multiple modes of proprioceptive and exteroceptive feedback. This concerns not only robots and actuators comprised primarily of soft materials (i.e. intrinsically soft), but also those in which the desired deformation is achieved primarily by their architecture (i.e. extrinsically soft). In particular, among many other capabilities soft robots should use mechanosensing in adapting/reacting to unexpected situations. Many results are available today for novel deformable materials for sensing application (e.g. in addition to single elastic sensors, electronic skins are available) however, there is still a gap to overcome to make these results usable in compliant actuated structures and real robotic systems. New flexible/deformable strategies have to be exploited to pursue a full integration of sensing and body, aiming for more sensing functionalities with low computational strategies.
In this vision, the workshop will mainly consist of two highly interdisciplinary parts. In one part, critical examples of sensing in soft bodies will be presented from biology and robotics. Biologically inspired systems for soft locomotion will be presented to shed light on possible simplifying strategies for sensorized robots (of both intrinsic and extrinsic type). Closed-loop soft robotic behaviours will be described, highlighting advantages and challenges associated with sensing implementation, and also drawing input from new fields like soft haptics. In the second part of the workshop, challenges related to soft and functional materials, sensing design and emerging technologies will be discussed, including: soft materials behaviour for sensing mechanical parameters; methods for achieving multimodality in mechanosensing with soft materials; and, 2D and 3D printing technologies for seamlessly embedding sensors within actuated structures.Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
The multidisciplinary approach will stimulate creativity and interactions among participants. The audience of the workshop will consist of researchers from different disciplines (robotics, biology, material science, engineering, etc.), and the high technological and scientific level of the topics addressed can make an impact on young researchers and students at Master and PhD level. The discussions during the interactive sessions will be aided by demonstration of robots or components, by using prototypes or videos, and junior researchers will be invited and involved.