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Biologically Inspired Robotics Laboratory

Department of Engineering

ICRA2018 Workshop on Self-healing, Growing and Evolving Soft Robots

Brisbane, Australia


Fumiya Iida (University of Cambridge), Bram Vanderborght (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Barbara Mazzolai (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia), Cecilia Laschi (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Pisa)


The ability to flexibly and dynamically changing mechanical bodies is the foundation of adaptability in animals and other living organisms. Each animal starts its life with a single cell, and it is enlarged into larger organisms through differentiation, morphogenesis, and self-healing. These mechanisms are essential for biological systems not only to simply enlarge their bodies but also to create new functions, as stem cells are specialised into tissues, muscles, brains, and sensory systems. In contrast, our robotic systems today are mechanically very static, and unable to change their bodies in the satisfactory levels of flexibility in order to achieve comparable adaptivity and intelligence as animals’. Even though these topics are seemingly outrageously challenging for today’s robotics, there are several notable attempts and technological progress reported recently. In general, the recent advances in material science, rapid prototyping, and soft robotics technologies are providing us to explore a number of novel approaches to tackle the long-standing fundamental challenges of self-healing, growing and evolving robotics. From this perspective, this workshop provides a stage for active discussions about the state-of-the-art technologies as well as sharing the common views about challenges and perspectives.


The proposed workshop aims to present latest advances in the fields of self-healing, growing, and evolutionary soft robotics. Recent publications showed that: Self-healing materials were employed to form a series of inflatable artificial muscles to actuate various soft robots; Fused Deposition Modelling technology was extended to make a plant-like robot enlarge its size physically; And modular robots were extended for achieving evolutionary robotics in real life. Talks will describe new and innovative ideas in all of these fields as well as neighbouring fields that are technologically and theoretically related. The workshop will serve to highlight important challenges still facing the field and potential approaches needed to overcome them. To augment the contributed presentations, the organizing committee is planning to have preeminent researchers to give presentations on their latest results and experiences, along with poster presentations to discuss recent case studies interactively.

List of potential topics:

  • Self-healing robot technologies
  • Growing robot technologies
  • Evolutionary robot technologies
  • Advanced functional materials for shape-, colour-changing robots
  • 4D printing and fabrication with active materials
  • Advanced fabrication techniques for shape changing robots
  • Soft modular robotics and programmable matter
  • Design automation, optimization algorithms
  • Modelling and simulation techniques of shape-changing robots
  • Multi-material rapid prototyping/3D printing
  • Bio-mimetic and bio-inspired mechanisms and applications
  • Adaptive sensor morphology and morphological computation
  • Self-organizing behavior in soft and deformable robots
  • Embodied and mechanical intelligence in soft robots
List of Plenary Speakers and Programme:

  • Fumiya Iida (University of Cambridge)
  • Bram Vanderborght (Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  • Barbara Mazzolai (IIT)
  • Cecilia Laschi (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna)
  • Daniela Rus (MIT)
  • Dana Damian (University of Sheffield)
  • Thrishantha Nanayakkara (Imperial College London)
  • Justin Werfel (Harvard University)
  • Jonathan Rossiter (University of Bristol)
  • Josh Bongard (University of Vermont)

We welcome submissions of extended abstract (between 1 and 2 pages in the double-column ICRA format). Abstracts will be evaluated on novel perspectives, scientific importance, clarity, and relevance. We especially encourage young students and researchers to submit their earlier works. On-site robot demonstrations are also highly encouraged. All submissions should be sent to Fumiya Iida ( by the deadline below.


  • Submission deadline of extended abstract: 6th April 2018
  • Notification of acceptance: 13th April 2018
  • Final submission deadline: 4th May 2018
  • Final Schedule: 11th May 2018
  • ICRA Workshop: 21st May 2018
Tentative Program

8:30 – 9.00

Fumiya Iida – Emergence of emergent behaviours in physically adaptive robots  

9:00 – 9.30

Josh Bongard - Robots that morph and behave simultaneously  

9:30 – 10.00

Bram Vanderborght - Are soft robots indestructible?  
10:00 – 10.30 Coffee Break and Poster Session  
10:30 - 11:00 Barbara Mazzolai - What do robots envy living beings?  

11:00 – 11.30

Jonathan Rossiter - How do you make soft robotic organisms, and why would you want to?  

11:30 – 12:00

Justin Werfel - W hen should bioinspiration end?

12:00 - 12:30 Poster spotlight  

12:30 – 12:50

Panel discussion I – Challenges and perspectives  

12:50 – 14:00

Lunch Break and Poster session  

14:00 – 14:30

Dana Damian - How soft robots can change surgery and tissue repair as we know it  
14:30 – 15:00 Thrish Nanayakkara - Brain is the last resort  

15:00 – 15:30

Cecilia Laschi - Ten years of soft robotics: lesson learned and challenges ahead  

15:30 – 16:00

Coffee Break and Poster Session  

16:00 – 16:30

Plenary talk - Daniela Rus  

16:30 – 17:00

Panel discussion II – Collaborations and next steps  

17:00 –

Open discussion for future collaborations and open-ended social event  


-- Main.fi224 - 15 Dec 2017