IROS 2020 Workshop on New Advances in Soft Robots Control


New Advances in Soft Robot Control




Full-day workshop. October 25th, 2020.


Main Organizer

Concepción A. Monje 


University Carlos III of Madrid, Spain. Phone: +34 91 624 6013




Egidio Falotico 

The BioRobotics Institute

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy. Phone: +39 050 88 3457



Santiago Martínez de la Casa


University Carlos III of Madrid, Spain. Phone: +34 91 624 5997 





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, Lyapunov 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.
    • -  A Special Issue in Frontiers in Robotics and AI will be published as an outcome of the workshop summarizing and categorizing the presented methods.

Topics of interest

    •   Soft robotics concepts and foundations/ Keywords: Soft robot materials and design; Soft sensors and actuators;
    •  Modeling of soft robots / Keywords: modeling for soft robots
    •   Model-based control of soft robotic systems / Keywords: control for soft robots.
    •   Model-free control approaches of soft robotic systems / Keywords: control for soft robots
    •   Main soft robotic applications and testbed platforms for experimental validation / Keywords: Soft robot applications

Invited speakers

    • 1.  Akira Fukuhara (Tohoku University, Japan, Decentralized control scheme underlying animal locomotion)
    • 2. Cecilia Laschi (BioRobotics Institute Pisa, Italy, Soft robotics and morphological computation)
    • 3.  Kohei Nakajima (University of Tokyo, Soft interfaces: linking morphological dynamics and information processing)
    • 4.  Manolo Garabini (Research Center “E. PIaggio”, Università di Pisa, Italy, Dynamic preserving planning and control of soft robots)
    • 5.  Thomas Thuruthel (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, Learning-based modelling and control of soft robots)
    • 6.  Luis Moreno (University Carlos III of Madrid, Spain, Soft arm exoskeletons) (Confirmed)
    • 7.  Bram Vanderborght (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, Adaptable Compliance/Variable Stiffness, Selfhealing materials)
    • 8.  Lars Schiller (University of Technology Hamburg, Germany, Position control of mobile soft robots)
    • 9.  Egidio Falotico (BioRobotics Institute Pisa, Italy, Design of soft links)
    • 10.  Concepción A. Monje (RoboticsLab, University Carlos III of Madrid, Spain, Control of soft links)

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 proposed. Apart from the standard oral presentations during the Workshop session (invited speakers), an interactive (poster or screen) session (during coffee breaks) 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 Frontiers in Robotics and AI. 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, 2020
  • Acceptance notification: July 31st, 2020
  • Camera ready deadline: October 1st, 2020
  • Registration deadline: see IROS website
  • Workshop date: October 25th, 2020


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