This approach is therefore subject to a paradigm shift that not only creates individual components such as sensors or printed circuit boards, but also almost complete mechatronic systems made of soft, flexible materials such as silicones. Such systems have the great advantage that their structures have a high degree of flexibility and adaptability due to the flexibility of the material. In direct contact with humans, these systems therefore exhibit a certain degree of “inherent safety”, which reduces the risk of injury in the interaction between humans and robots.
The immanent paradigm shift of soft robotics - away from hard and towards soft materials - holds considerable potential, but at the same time poses special challenges for developers: While previous generations of robot systems only differ from their predecessors in terms of evolutionary development, the emergence of soft robotics represents a revolution over all previous solutions.
The SPP 2100 “Soft Material Robotic Systems” has set itself the task of actively meeting the challenges of this paradigm shift and developing novel approaches for the development of soft robots. The main disciplines involved are engineering, computer science, materials science, natural sciences and biomechanics.
In the modern world, gender inequality and diversity are topics often met with resistance to some degree. Statistics show an upward trend in the number of female PhD holders, and their representation in academia, specially in STEM, is on a path of progress, even if a little slow.
As soft robotics is becoming one of the most important and interesting fields of science, it is crucial now more than ever to introduce this field to the young scientists and researchers and to encourage them to pursue the field, in order to bring it to the heights it is more than capable of rising to. The soft robotics team at match had this ultimate objective in mind as they conducted the first workshop on Soft Robotics for the students of Leibniz University on 3rd December 2020.