Soft robotics
Soft Robotics Workshop

Soft robotics is a growing field of research wherein soft and compliant materials replace some or all of the traditional rigid parts conventionally used in robotics. The soft parts can engender properties such as elasticity, full body actuation and delicate object handling which can be beneficial for many different applications. Soft structures can also give robots a more biological appearance and are generally safer in robot human interactions. Materials such as silicone rubbers, for instance, allow movements to become more fluid and “naturally” expressive. A soft surface is also reminiscent of human and animal skin, which some researchers have claimed allows for a higher degree of identification with and feelings of empathy toward robots.

Soft robotics has become a field of enquiry for possible applications within areas as diverse as eldercare, prostheses, surgery, rescue operations, and wearable technology.  More recently, soft robotics has also been gaining attention from architects, designers and artists. Certain challenges and difficulties, however, emanate when considering the manufacturing processes as well as the rapid prototyping solutions that can be used to produce soft morphologies.

In this workshop participants will get a broad introduction to the field of soft robotics. Through hands on practice-based inquiry participants will become acquainted with a number of selected methods for a simple production and control of soft morphologies.

The first day of the workshop will focus on the production of basic soft robotic parts and morphologies. An introduction will be given to different types of soft actuators and their usages as part of robot morphologies (PneuNets, tentacles, grippers etc.).  A workflow is introduced wherein 3d computer modeling leads to 3d printed molds which are then used with a lost wax casting procedure to yield robot parts in EcoFlex silicone.

The second day focuses on the final assembly of the soft robots and different ways of controlling them with pneumatics. We will be using syringes as basic pumps and experimenting with using an Arduino microcontroller to control electrical pumps to generate more complex movement patterns (e.g. gait) and to have the robots respond interactively to sensor readings.

Participants are expected to bring their own laptop with Arduino IDE installed (can be downloaded from https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software).
The workshop is open for all interested - prior experience working with robotics, Arduino or 3d modeling is not needed to participate.
Time of the workshop:
24.5. at 10 - 14
25.9. at 10 - 14

Please register in advance below. The language of the workshop is English.

Please note that there is a 15€ material fee for silicone and other parts provided to all participants by Pixelache.


About Jonas Jørgensen and Frank Veenstra

Jonas Jørgensen is a PhD fellow at the IT University of Copenhagen. He is trained as a physicist (BSc) and an art historian (BA, MA). His current research focuses on the intersection of robotic technology with art and aesthetics. Jonas is part of the REAL (Robotics Evolution and Art Lab) research group at the IT University of Copenhagen. Since 2014 he has also been an active participant in the research network ROCA (Robot Culture and Aesthetics) hosted by the University of Copenhagen. Jonas’ writings have appeared in edited volumes, artist monographs, exhibition catalogues, art pedagogical journals, and peer reviewed conference proceedings.

Frank Veenstra is a PhD student at the Software and Systems Section of the IT University of Copenhagen. He holds a BSc degree in Biology from the University of Utrecht, Netherlands (2012), and a MSc degree in Bionics/Biomimetics from the Hochschule Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences in Kleve, Germany (2014). For his PhD he is currently working on the Flora Robotica project. Frank aspires to develop new methods for achieving artificial behaviour in robotics that approximate biological life. General research interests include: bio-inspired artificial intelligence and evolutionary robotics.

Read Jonas' and Frank's interview from HERE!

Links on soft robotics

• Examples of soft robotics research projects:
http://www.homepages.ed.ac.uk/astokes2/research_BSR.html
http://gmwgroup.harvard.edu/research/index.php?page=23
http://softroboticstoolkit.com/projects
https://real.itu.dk/projects/soft-robotics/

• Art and architecture projects involving soft robotics:
http://www.ecepolenbudak.com/brall-2014-2015/
http://www.wihart.net/ ◦ https://srfa2013.wordpress.com/
http://www.fastcompany.com/3037993/furl-the-eeg-responsive-soft-robotics-future-of-architecture

• Amateurist/DIY approaches:
http://www.olin.edu/blog/olin-admission/post/software-and-soft-robotics/
http://www.instructables.com/id/Aerobox-A-Soft-Robotics-Control-System/