Soft-Bodied Robots and Technologies

The bioinspired evolution of robotics also supports the effectiveness of soft bodies, as living organisms exploit soft tissues and compliant structures to move in complex environments[1]. This new class of robots is expected to act in unstructured scenarios (e.g., locomotion in un-certain terrains, manipulation of unknown objects, the accomplishment of non-predetermined tasks, etc.) and interact more safely with humans[2],[3]. The complexity in developing bioinspired soft robots is increased by the need of mimicking biological system capabilities in being energetically efficient, in changing their morphology, in adapting their body and functionality in their lifetime, by growing, or even by a morphological environmental adaptation[4]. Hence, the challenge ahead for soft-bodied robotics is to further develop the abilities for robots to grow, evolve, self-heal, develop, and bio-degrade, which are the ways that robots can adapt their morphology to the environment[5],[6].

In this scientific view, the Bioinspired Soft Robotics line includes also the investigation of soft animals, with particular attention to soft invertebrate animals, such as octopus, snail, and sea urchin, to develop robots that are able to move, act and morphologically adapt to extreme or unstructured environments.


[1] Kim S., Laschi C., Trimmer B. (2013). Soft robotics: a bioinspired evolution in robotics. Trends in Biotechnology 31(5):287-294.

[2] Rus D., Tolley M.T. (2015). Design, fabrication and control of soft robots. Nature 521(7553):467.

[3] Mazzolai B., Mattoli V. (2016). Robotics: generation soft. Nature 536(7617):400.

[4] Laschi C., Mazzolai B. (2016). Lessons from animals and plants: the symbiosis of morphological computation and soft robotics. IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine 23(3):107-114.

[5] Mazzolai, B., et al. (2014). Plants as model in biomimetics and biorobotics: new perspectives. Frontiers in bioengineering and biotechnology, 2, 2.

[6] Laschi, C., Mazzolai, B., & Cianchetti, M. (2016). Soft robotics: Technologies and systems pushing the boundaries of robot abilities. Sci. Robot., 1(1)