Soft Robot

Made from lightweight, flexible, or biocompatible material, these morphological robots can bend and stretch. They are made to navigate in complex environments such as the human body or hazardous territory.
Technology Life Cycle

Technology Life Cycle


Marked by a rapid increase in technology adoption and market expansion. Innovations are refined, production costs decrease, and the technology gains widespread acceptance and use.

Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

Field Validation

Validation is conducted in relevant environments, where simulations are carried out as close to realistic circumstances.

Technology Diffusion

Technology Diffusion

Early Adopters

Embrace new technologies soon after Innovators. They often have significant influence within their social circles and help validate the practicality of innovations.

Soft Robot

This type of robot uses flexible materials, such as rubber, silicone or biocompatible materials, which allows for bending, stretching, and moving in ways that are similar to living organisms. They are designed to be more flexible and adaptable than traditional rigid robots, allowing them to interact with complex environments in new ways, from the human body to unknown territories.

Soft robots work by using a combination of pneumatic, hydraulic, or electric systems to power and control their movement. Some soft robots use air or fluid pressure to change their shape, while others use electric actuators or shape-memory alloys. These materials and systems enable the robot to move in response to external stimuli, such as changes in pressure or temperature.

The technology is especially useful in situations where rigid robots are not suitable or effective, such as in medical applications or in hazardous environments. Soft robots can be made to be more durable and safe, able to withstand impacts and collisions, and can be used in close proximity to humans without causing harm.

Soft robots are being developed for a wide range of applications, including medical devices, environmental monitoring, and search and rescue operations. For example, researchers are developing soft robots that can navigate through the human body to deliver drugs or perform surgical procedures. They are also exploring the use of soft robots for monitoring the environment, such as underwater or in hazardous waste sites.

Future Perspectives

Ideally, soft robots will overcome the constraints imposed by the rigid components found in regular robots. More than merely reproducing capabilities, soft robotics will allow robots to perform new movements and motions previously impossible for silicon-based machines. In other words, soft robots will be able to squeeze, stretch, grow, and climb — emulating biological systems with more precision than regular robots.

One potential example is the soft robotic hand, which has caught global attention for its potential to improve prosthetics by making them more sensitive and adaptable. While soft robot hands can grasp objects with more precision and safety, they might evolve beyond helping people with disabilities to also be featured in precise processes such as surgeries.

Image: Midjourney

This paper investigates the potential of soft robotics that are enabled by emergent materials in architecture. Distributed, adaptive soft robotics holds the promise to address many issues in architectural environments such as energy efficiency as well as user comfort and safety.Two examples out of a series of experiments conducted in the Material Dynamics Lab at the New Jersey Institute of Technology are being introduced and serve as a vehicle to explore distributed soft robotics in architectural environments. The design process and project development methods of the soft robotic systems integrated the fabrication of working proof of concept prototypes as well as their testing.
The artificial heart is made of a single piece of soft silicon and is an example of soft robotics.
Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot acts as a tool to improve the accuracy of stitching especially soft tissue because it is malleable and moveable.
Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital researchers have developed a customizable soft robot that fits around a heart and helps it beat, potentially opening new treatment options for people suffering from heart failure.
In recent years, much attention has focused on Soft robotics to take on the applications that many of today’s robots are typically ill-suited for.
The caterpillar-like soft robot that can move forward, backward and dip under narrow spaces.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have created soft robots that can seamlessly shift from walking to swimming.
The Soft Robotics Toolkit is a collection of shared resources to support the design, fabrication, modeling, and control of soft robotic devices.
A newly developed vine-like robot can grow across long distances without moving its whole body.
Scientists have created a tiny biobot that can be implanted under the skin and deliver doses of drugs.
Recording of a talk given by Professor Fumiya Iida (Professor of Robotics at the Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge) for the IET Cambridge Network on 17th March 2022. Professor Iida introduces some of the research projects in his laboratory which make use of soft robotics and machine learning techniques, to address complex problems in robotic applications such as those in agriculture.
The liquid is an essential component of natural creatures with profound capacities in assisting homeostatic regulation of physiological functions. However, its participation in more diverse biological behaviors, such as intelligence, motion, energy, etc., is seriously neglected and is undisclosed thus far. Herein, it is considered whether liquid systems can offer pivotal hints in the development of intelligent machines. Starting from this core point, a basic conjecture is proposed that specifically equips a robotic system with liquid that brings about revolutionary design of intelligent systems and plays an elementary role in molding future advanced soft robots. Through a comparative analogy between artificially made machines and natural animals, the basic category of the so‐termed Intelligent Liquid Integrated Functional Entity (I‐LIFE) is drafted and thus enabled. Then, functions of such unconventional robotic liquid are expounded from five aspects, including motion, energy supply, material performance tuning, sensing, and intelligence, respectively. Typical application examples are also illustrated. Furthermore, a group of intelligent liquids are recommended as candidates for developing future robotic systems. The fundamental scientific and technological challenges lying behind these recommendations are outlined. Finally, prospects of I‐LIFE are pointed out, which stimulates the increasing design of a future generation of innovative intelligent robotic systems.

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