Max Planck Intelligent Systems Colloquium, Stuttgart

10427 1499173228

From Soft Actuators to Soft Robotics: where are we now? From Soft Actuators to Soft Robotics: where are we now?

  • Date: Jul 10, 2017
  • Time: 11:00 - 12:00
  • Speaker: Prof. Gursel Alici, School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronic and Biomedical Engineering, ARC Center of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, University of Wollongong, Australia
  • Location: MPI IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3
  • Room: 3P 2
  • Host: Prof. Dr. Metin Sitti, Managing Director, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems
  • Contact:


As a continuously growing field of robotics, soft robotics is the science and engineering of the robots primarily made of soft materials, components and monolithic active structures such that the soft robots can safely interact with and adapt to their environment better than the robots made of hard components. The progress in soft robotics will have a significant impact especially on medical applications including prosthetic limbs or devices, wearable robots, assistive devices, and rehabilitation devices. Soft materials with programmable mechanical, electrical and rheological properties, and conformable to additive manufacturing based on 3D printing are essential to realize soft robots. Robotics community need soft materials specifically synthesised to meet the function requirements of a soft robot. The most important step in establishing a soft robot is to determine its energy efficient, low foot-print and low weight actuation concept. Especially materials which can directly respond to an electrical potential (i.e. electrically responsive materials or electromaterials) will be ideal to establish soft actuation concepts. In this regard, electroactive polymers have been considered as promising materials for soft actuators. Electroactive polymer actuators or artificial muscles can be alternatives to conventional actuation means due to their features including low electric power consumption (1V, 15-20 mA), lightweight, compliant, biocompatible, able to operate in air and liquid with a high speed (~ 400 Hz, depending on the size), insensitive to magnetic fields and simple to fabricate. However, there exist many scientific and technological research questions around their fabrication, packaging, performance and control which must be addressed before they can used in establishing a functional actuator or a soft robot. With this in mind, we have realised significant amount of research to understand and characterise the static and dynamic behaviours, performance quantification, and sensorless control of these soft smart actuators.


Gursel Alici received the Ph.D. degree in robotics from the Department of Engineering Science, Oxford University, Oxford, U.K., in 1994. He is currently a Senior Professor at the University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia, where he is the Head of the School of Mechanical, Materials. Mechatronic and Biomedical Engineering since 2011. His research interests are soft robotics, system dynamics and control, robotic drug delivery systems, novel actuation concepts for biomechatronic applications, robotic mechanisms and manipulation systems, soft and smart actuators and sensors, and medical robotics. He has published more than 300 refereed publications and delivered numerous invited seminars and keynote talks on his areas of research.

Dr. Alici was a Technical Editor of the IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics during 2008–2012. He is a Technical Editor of the IEEE Access, the first IEEE open access journal with interdisciplinary scope. He is a Member of the Mechatronics National Panel formed by the Institution of Engineers, Australia. He has served on the international program committee of numerous IEEE/ASME International Conferences on Robotics and Mechatronics. He was the General Chair of the 2013 IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics held in Wollongong, Australia. He is the leader of Soft Robotics for Prosthetic Devices theme of the ARC Center of Excellence for Electromaterials Science. He received the Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning Award in 2010 and the 2013 Vice-Chancellor’s Interdisciplinary Research Excellence Award from the University of Wollongong. He has held a visiting professorship position at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL), City University of Hong Kong, and University of Science and Technology of China (USTC).

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