BIOINSPIRED AND SOFT ROBOTICS
Imagining soft and deformable robots means breaking conventions and transforming not only the traditional idea of robots but also their functionality. Differently from traditional robotics, bioinspired and soft robotics enables to fulfil complex tasks in unstructured environments and faces the challenges of building robots with soft and deformable materials, capable of effectively and safely interacting with humans and the environment. Bioinspired robotics aims at investigating natural mechanisms, taking inspiration from biological features to apply them in artificial agents. Soft robotics is not just a new direction of technological development, but a novel approach to robotics, with the potential to produce a new generation of robots inspired by nature, able to emulate animal behaviours for accomplishing helpful tasks in real-world environments.
At the BioRobotics Institute, we investigate soft robotics technologies, from materials to sensors and actuators, soft robots as dynamical systems and the way they are mathematically modelled and controlled, and we engineer novel robotic solutions that are more adaptive, resilient, and energy efficient. Currently, our research on enabling technologies includes sensors and actuators inspired by biological principles, flexible and deformable components and variable stiffness materials and mechanisms for different application-oriented robots. This research relies on advanced fabrication technologies and modelling and simulation expertise. Experimental applications include medical soft robots (comprising artificial organs and physical simulators), assistive soft arms, robots for the investigation of marine environments.