IROS 2019 Workshop on Advances in Soft Robots Control

Advances in Soft Robots Control



Full-day workshop. November 4th, 2019.


Advances in Soft Robots Control

Main Organizer

Concepción A. Monje, RoboticsLab, University Carlos III of Madrid, Spain. Phone: +34 91 624 6013; Email:;



Helmut Hauser, Faculty of Engineering, University of Bristol, United Kingdom. Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 5033; Email:;


Cecilia Laschi, The BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy. Phone: +39 050 88 3486; Email:;







The emerging field of soft robotics is nowadays looking at innovative ways to create and apply robotic technology in our lives. It is a relatively new domain in the field of robotics, but one that has a lot of potential to change how we relate with robots and also how they are used. The term "soft robot" describes a system that is inherently soft yielding a complex dynamics and a passive compliance similar to the biological counterpart. As this was a new design paradigm for the hardware, methods or algorithms to prescribe the robotic system a certain dynamics changed as well.


Classical control approaches in robotics are nonlinear model based. However, the highly complex and nonlinear models necessary for a soft robotic system make this approach a difficult task and therefore seem to come to a limit in the presence of a soft robot. Therefore, other methods have been applied seemingly being more useful in this context, such as learning-based control algorithms, model-free approaches like bang bang control, control algorithms motivated by neuroscience, or morphological computation. These methods add new perspectives to the well known model-based approach. We want to provide an inter- and cross-disciplinary platform to discuss techniques, conventional as well as novel, that are currently applied and developed and discuss limitations, potentials and future directions.


The workshop will bring together experts in the above mentioned control methods as well as people with neuro-scientific and biology background in order to discuss the following issues:

-       How are control loops set up in biology (from a biological and neuroscientifical point of view)?

-       Requirements of each method in order to apply them on a real system.

-       Is there a theoretical background, proving that the method works?; passivity, robustness, Lyapynov stability, others.

-       Limitation of the control approaches.

-       Are there specific tasks / trajectories / applications for which each method is applicable?


Goals of the workshop:


-       Answer the question: "Do we have to rethink the basic approach in robot control, which is model based, when it comes to controlling soft robotic systems?".

-       Identify the best experimental testbeds for soft robot control evaluation.

-       Contribute to the field by giving the audience a structured review of existing control methods for these systems, including the above-mentioned bullets.

Topics of interest

·             Soft robotics concepts and foundations

·             Modeling of soft robots

·             Model-based control of soft robotic systems

·             Model-free control approaches of soft robotic systems

·             Main soft robotic applications and testbed platforms for experimental validation

Invited Speakers

1.     Concepción A. Monje (RoboticsLab, University Carlos III of Madrid). Control of soft links.

2.     Akira Fukuhara (Tohoku University, Japan). Decoding body-limb coordination mechanism underlying animal locomotion.

3.     Martin Garrad (SoftLab, University of Bristol and Bristol Robotics Laboratory). Controlling soft robots without electronics.

4.     Christian Ott (DLR Germany). Nonlinear control of a soft robotic neck.

5.     Dorin Copaci (RoboticsLab, University Carlos III of Madrid). Flexible SMA actuators for soft exoskeletons.

6.     Egidio Falotico (BioRobotics Institute Pisa). Learning-based controllers for soft robotic manipulators.

7.     Xin Dong (Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering, University of Nottingham). Soft robotics for inspection and repair in industrial applications.

8.     Jian ZHU (National University of Singapore). Soft active origami robot.

9.     Michael T. Tolley (University of California, San Diego). Control of untethered soft robots.

The invited speakers work in a wide variety of areas in soft robotics, from modeling to control, which contributes to a significant representation of the state of the art in this field.

Structure of the event

-       A mix oral-interactive session will be followed. Apart from the standard oral presentations during the Workshop session (invited speakers), interactive (poster or screen) sessions will be arranged in order for younger researchers/other workshop participants to spread their research within the IROS community.


-       Each poster will get a teaser talk within the workshop program in order to motivate the interaction with the rest of participants.


-     At the end of the session, a time slot will be devoted to bring the main contributions into discussion (posters included), giving the opportunity to all Workshop participants to discuss the results achieved.


20 to 30 contributed papers (2 pages) will be accepted as poster papers based on their quality, originality, and relevance to the workshop. Authors of selected papers will be asked later to submit extended versions of their papers for a special issue in the Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems (IJARS), International Journal of Humanoid Robotics (IJHR) and Journal of Robotics. Submitted papers should not be under consideration for publication anywhere else. Submission of papers and review process will be handled through the following email account: Please, prepare your submissions following the IROS paper format.


Important dates

  • Papers submission deadline: July 7th, 2019
  • Acceptance notification: July 31st, 2019
  • Camera ready deadline: October 1st, 2019
  • Registration deadline: see IROS website
  • Workshop date: November 4th, 2019


The organizers of this Workshop have the support of the IEEE RAS Technical Committee on Soft Robotics.