Date and time:
March 18 at 8:00am PDT/4:00pm CET/11:00pm SGT/11:59pm JST
Live Stream: Zoom Webinar (https://zoom.us/j/98948317177)
Live questions and discussion: Slido (https://app.sli.do/event/1wvjluuz)
Moderator: Robert Katzschmann (ETH Zurich)
Panelists: Cecilia Laschi (NUS), Ryuma Niiyama (UTokyo), Michael Tolley (UCSD), Robert Shepherd (Cornell), Robert Katzschmann (ETH Zurich)
Front Row Participants: Christian Duriez, Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio, Kyujin Cho, Pablo Valdivia y Alvarado
Title: Will soft robots be essential for solving the canonical challenges in robotics?
Panel Summary: The field of soft robotics has been rapidly growing for the last decade, churning out new material, actuator, modeling, control, and learning technologies almost every day. With an integrative creation and control strategy centered around the concept of embodied intelligence and physical AI, soft robotics is attempting to solve the canonical challenges in many fields of robotics research. We have invited a selection of experts with extensive experience in this vibrant research area. This panel aims to provide an opportunity to discuss and learn about the ongoing research work, what has recently been solved, and what remains as open research problems. In particular, the panel will focus on the following questions:
- In what regards do soft robots already outperform their rigid counterparts?
- Which scientific advancements of the past decade contributed most to making soft robots more capable and relevant to society?
- Which soft robotic technologies will soon solve open robotic challenges in the areas of manipulation, locomotion, medical, and human-robot interaction?
- Which topic areas in soft robotics (i.e., materials, design, fabrication, modeling, control, and learning) require the most progress and innovation in the years to come?
- With infinite financial resources, which investments in advanced machinery and technology would quickly advance this research field?
Robert Katzschmann (Moderator)
Robert Katzschmann is an Assistant Professor of Robotics at ETH Zurich. Robert earned his Diplom-Ingenieur in 2013 from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 2018 from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2018. Robert worked on robotic manipulation technologies as Applied Scientist at Amazon Robotics and as CTO at Dexai Robotics. In July 2020, Robert founded the Soft Robotics Lab at ETH Zurich to push robots' abilities for real-life applications by being more compliant and better adapt to their environment to solve challenging tasks. His group develops soft robots whose compliant properties resemble living organisms and advances modeling, control, and learning techniques tailored to the needs of soft robots. His work has appeared in leading academic journals, including Science Robotics, and has been featured in major news outlets, including the New York Times. Robert is a member of the ETH AI Center, the Max Planck ETH Center for Learning Systems (CLS), and the ETH Competence Center for Materials and Processes (MaP). Robert is an Area Chair for Robotics Science and Systems (RSS), a Guest Editor for the International Journal on Robotics Research (IJRR), and a reviewer for leading peer-reviewed journals, including Science and Nature.
Cecilia Laschi is Professor at the National University of Singapore, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She is on leave from Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Italy, The BioRobotics Institute (Dept. of Excellence in Robotics & AI). She graduated in Computer Science at University of Pisa and received a Ph.D. in Robotics from the University of Genoa. She was JSPS visiting researcher at Waseda University in Tokyo. Her research interests are in soft robotics, an area she pioneered and contributed to develop internationally, including its marine and biomedical applications. She has been working in humanoid and neuro-robotics. She is in the Editorial Boards of many journals, including Science Robotics and serves as reviewer for journals like Nature and Science, for EC (incl. ERC), HFSP and national research agencies. She is senior member of IEEE, EMBS and RAS, where she is AdCom member and co-chair of TC on Soft Robotics. She founded and chaired the 1st IEEE-RAS Int. Conf. on Soft Robotics. She co-founded the spin-off RoboTech srl.
Ryuma Niiyama is an Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo. He received his BA. degree in Engineering in 2005 and his Ph.D. in 2010 from The University of Tokyo. During his Ph.D., he worked on jumping and running with musculoskeletal robots driven by pneumatic muscles. He joined the MIT CSAIL, MIT Media Lab, and MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering as a postdoctoral researcher from 2010 to 2014. During his postdoc years, he participated in the programmable printable robot project and proposed a soft printable actuator named the Pouch Motor. He also applied soft robotics to tangible user interfaces. The focus of his research is to explore innovative robot architectures based on soft robotics. His current research interests include bio-inspired robots, continuum manipulators, and inflatable robots. He is one of the project directors of the JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas "Science of Soft Robots," a large research project related to soft robotics in Japan.
Michael T. Tolley is Associate Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and director of the Bioinspired Robotics and Design Lab at the Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego (bioinspired.eng.ucsd.edu). Before joining the mechanical engineering faculty at UCSD in the fall of 2014, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University. He received the Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering with a minor in computer science from Cornell University in 2009 and 2011, respectively. His research seeks inspiration from nature to design robotic systems with the versatility, resilience, and efficiency of biological organisms. Examples include soft legged robots capable of navigating complex terrain, soft squid-inspired robots capable of efficient swimming, underwater adhesive grippers inspired by clingfish, and worm-inspired soft digging robots. His work has appeared in leading academic journals including Science and Nature, and has been recognized by awards including a US Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program award and a 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award.
Rob Shepherd is an associate professor at Cornell University in the Sibley School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. He received his B.S. (Material Science & Engineering), Ph.D. (Material Science & Engineering), and M.B.A. from the University of Illinois in Material Science & Engineering. At Cornell, he runs the Organic Robotics Lab (ORL: http://orl.mae.cornell.edu), which focuses on using methods of invention, including bioinspired design approaches, in combination with material science to improve machine function and autonomy. We rely on new and old synthetic approaches for soft material composites that create new design opportunities in the field of robotics. Our research spans three primary areas: bioinspired robotics, advanced manufacturing, and human-robot interactions. He is the recipient of an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, and his lab’s work has been featured in popular media outlets such as the BBC, Discovery Channel, and PBS’s NOVA documentary series.