The research at Soft Robotics lab will focus on two main challenges:
Development of Technological Solutions for Soft Robots
Soft robots require soft sensors and actuators that can be embedded into the robot body without adding kinematic constraints and rigidity. In particular soft sensors should have the advantageous properties of transparency, high sensitivity, high flexibility, stretch ability, cover a large-area and be low-cost. Soft actuators should exhibit the shape and rigid tuneable properties of natural muscles. Furthermore, a system level approach in the design and integration, is required to reduce system complexity and computational overload on the robot control. New technological solutions and fabrication techniques will be investigated for the development of such sensors and actuators.
Exploring and Exploiting “Softness” for robots’ intelligent behaviour
Soft structures have infinite degrees of freedom and are inherently complex due to material non-linearity making classical control strategies difficult to use. Indeed, in the majority of industrial robots and classical robot design, these properties are suppressed because they interfere with modelling and control. This complexity, seen as a limitation in classic control approaches, can be instead exploited in soft robotics to achieve more robust, faster and potentially, more energy efficient robots.
Intelligent design of Soft Robots provided with Inhomogeneous mechanical structures and soft sensors will be explored for accomplishing challenging tasks for classical robots.