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IROS 2020 Workshop

IROS 2020 Workshop

Application-Driven Soft Robotic Systems: Translational Challenges

You can watch the workshop recording at the following here.

Twitter Hashtag: #SoftRobotsHardChallenges



With the increased interest in the use of soft materials for the creation of highly dexterous robots, soft robotics has established itself as an important research topic, as evidenced by the surge of publications in the recently appearing monothematic journals, such as “Soft Robotics” and conferences, such as Robosoft – the IEEE International Conference on Soft Robotics and dedicated sessions at the major robotics conferences, ICRA and IROS. Researchers have successfully demonstrated advantages of soft robotics over traditional robots made of rigid links and joints in several application areas including manufacturing, healthcare and surgical interventions. However, only a few of these potential soft robotic solutions have resulted in certified products contributing to a continuously growing robotic market.

This workshop will focus on application-driven, holistic soft robotic systems and discuss the translational outcomes achieved to date. We will discuss obstacles along the path from designing a soft robot towards its commercialisation and we will learn from successes and failures of experienced soft roboticists in overcoming translational barriers. We will provide young academics and industrial researchers interested in exploring the potential of soft robotics with a platform to discuss these translational challenges with senior academics, industrial experts and end users. Applications will be presented in which soft robotic solutions have greatly surpassed their rigid counterparts or traditional robotic solutions failed. We will explore and identify sectors in which soft robots show great potential.



The aims of this workshop are:
  • to discuss and identify the barriers preventing fundamental soft robotic research from being translated into commercial products.
  • to discuss and identify the design paradigms with the highest translational potential for specific applications.
  • to provide young researchers in industry and academia with a platform to meet, to learn from experienced soft roboticists and to discuss the future of soft robotics research.
  • to contribute to the creation of a white paper on soft robotics as proposed by the UK-RAS Strategic Task Group on Soft Robotics.

Topics of Interest


  • Soft robotics for healthcare, industrial, agricultural, inspection and exploration applications
  • Application-specific material selection
  • Fabrication techniques for large scale manufacturing of product-grade soft robots
  • Certification challenges in industrial and healthcare applications of soft robotics
  • Safety in soft robotics
  • User requirements for soft robotic systems
  • Robust methods for sensing, modelling, control and actuation in soft robotics
  • State monitoring in uncertain environments/conditions
  • Unexplored application areas of soft robotics
  • Biocompatibility in soft robotics
  • Disposable and sterilizable soft robots
  • Pierce-proof and cut-proof soft robots
  • Self-healing soft robots


Dr. Sara Adela Abad Guaman – Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Mechanical Engineering – Soft Haptics & Robotics Lab
University College London

Dr. Lukas Lindenroth – Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering – WEISS
University College London

Dr. Perla Maiolino – Associate Professor
Department of Engineering Science – Oxford Robotics Institute – Soft Robotics Lab
University of Oxford

Dr. Agostino Stilli – Lecturer (Assistant Professor) ( Corresponding Organiser )
Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering – WEISS
University College London


Professor Kaspar Althoefer
Division of Mechanical Engineering, Robotics and Design – Centre for Advanced Robotics (ARQ) (Director)
Queen Mary University of London

Dr. Hongbin Liu – Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor)
School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences – HaMMeR Lab (Director)
King’s College London

Professor Arianna Menciassi
The BioRobotics Institute
Sant’Anna – School of Advanced Studies – Pisa

Dr. Thrishantha Nanayakkara – Reader (Associate Professor)
Dyson School of Design Engineering – Morph Lab (Director)
Imperial College London

Dr. Jamie Paik – Associate Professor
School of Engineering – Reconfigurable Robotics Lab (Director)
EPFL – Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Dr. Helge Wurdemann – Lecturer (Assistant Professor)
Department of Mechanical Engineering – Soft Haptics & Robotics Lab (Director)
University College London

Support and Endorsement


This workshop is supported by the TC for Soft Robotics – Join the soft robotics mailing list at the following website:

This workshop is also supported by:
Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences (WEISS)
TC for Performance Evaluation & Benchmarking of Robotic and Automation Systems

Tentative Programme

Date: Sunday 25th October 2020

Workshop Introduction Video and Videos of Shortlisted Poster Submissions for the Awards at this link

Time Talk Comments
15:30 – 16:15 GMT Industrial Session Session Chairs: Dr Helge Wurdemann (UCL), Dr Agostino Stilli (UCL)
Speakers/Panellists: Dr Jelizaveta Konstantinova (Ocado), Dr Sukho Song (EPFL), Professor Kaspar Althoefer (QMUL)

Speakers’ presentations and posters link

16:15 – 16:30 GMT Break  
16:30 – 17:15 GMT Healthcare Session Session Chairs: Dr Hongbin Liu (KCL), Dr Lukas Lindenroth (UCL)
Speakers/Panellists: Professor Arianna Menciassi (SSSA), Professor Conor Walsh (Harvard University), Dr Helge Wurdemann (UCL)

Speakers’ presentations and posters link

17:15 – 17:30 GMT Break  
17:30 – 18:15 GMT Agricultural Session Session Chairs: Dr Thrishantha Nanayakkara (ICL), Dr Sara Adela Abad (UCL).
Speakers/Panellists: Dr Fumiya Iida (University of Cambridge), Professor Oliver Brock (TUB), Dr Girish Chowdhary (University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign), Lee Redden (Blue River Technologies)

Speakers’ presentations link

18:15 – 18:30 GMT Break  
18:30 – 19:15 GMT Inspection and Exploration Session Session Chairs:  Professor Kaspar Althoefer (QMUL), Dr Perla Maiolino (University of Oxford)
Speakers/Panellists: Margaret M. Coad (Stanford University), Professor Mirko Kovac (ICL), Dr Thrishantha Nanayakkara (ICL)

Speakers’ presentations link

19:10 – 19:30 GMT Final remarks and WS closure  

Invited Speakers


  • Sukho Song (EPFL)
  • Kaspar Althoefer (QMUL)
  • Jelizaveta Konstantinova (Ocado Technology)
  • Arianna Menciassi (SSSA)
  • Helge Wurdemann (UCL)
  • Conor Walsh (Harvard)
  • Fumiya Iida (University of Cambridge)
  • Oliver Brock (TU Berlin)
  • Girish Chowdhary (University of Illinois)
  • Lee Redden (Blue River Technologies)
  • Mirko Kovac (Imperial College London)
  • Margaret M. Coad (Stanford University)
  • Thrishantha Nanayakkara (ICL)

Call for Contributions


We are calling for poster contributions to our IROS workshop. We would like to invite the attendees to submit their poster presenting their soft robotics work applied to one of the different application scenarios (i.e., Industrial Applications, Healthcare, Agriculture and Inspection and Exploration). The best poster for each scenario will be awarded a certificate and a 200$ award sponsored by Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences.

Key dates

  • Submission will open the 01/07/2020 and will close the 01/10/2020 (23:59:00 PST).
  • Notification of acceptance: 07/10/2020

Instructions for the authors

  • The submitted contributions will go through a single-blind review process.
  • The authors of the accepted posters will have the opportunity to present their work in the poster session at the workshop and online.
  • Call for posters is open to both in person and online attendees.
  • Please submit your poster by sending an email to:
  • The subject of the email should be: [IROS 2020 Soft Robotics WS Submission – Name and Surname of the Contact Author]
  • Please provide your poster in high resolution (min. 300 dpi) and please use A1 – horizontal (841mm x 594mm) as format.
  • Please do NOT attach the pdf to the submission as emails with large attachments can be marked as spam.
  • Please provide a link to a shared repository where the file can be downloaded from (Dropbox, Sharepoint and Google Drive are all acceptable).
  • Please use your preferred poster template.