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General assembly of SPP2100 priority programme – “The future of Soft Robotics”

Following a successful first general assembly last year, the second general assembly of the SPP2100 programme was planned this year in the beautiful city of Leipzig from 5th to 8th July. With the current restrictions in mind, it was planned as a hybrid event that allowed more than 50 researchers from 13 universities from all over Germany to join virtually or in person. Throughout the four days, the researchers had the chance to engage in valuable information exchanges and break free from their labs and enjoy the beautiful weather in Leipzig.


Professor Annika Raatz, the project coordinator, welcomed the participants and introduced the first keynote speaker of the event, Dr Bert Müller from the University of Basel. Dr Müller talked about the industrial applications of Soft Robotics. After this inspiring insight into the real-world applications of soft robots, it was time to turn back to research. The individual projects had the chance to present their progress during the last year, each followed by a question and answer session.

The second day had a full schedule with three keynote speeches by pioneers in Soft Robotics. Professor Koichi Suzumori of the Tokyo Institute of Technology opened the second day with a talk on Soft Robotics leading to E-Kagen technology, which was followed by the second keynote speech of the day by Professor Bram Vanderborght of VUB Brussel, who gave an insight into his work on “self-healing robots”.  The last keynote speech of the event was given by Professor Allison Okamura of Stanford University, under the theme “soft robots for humanity”. The day was concluded with a deep discussion about the future of Soft Robotics: where the field can and should lead to in the next 3 years, and how the SPP2100 priority programme can play a role in it.

The last two days of the event were reserved especially for the PhD students to explore the innovative development of Soft Robotics and figure out the main challenges to be addressed in their plans during the second funding period. The PhD days also offered workshops on improving leadership skills as researchers for the young scientists. The last two days presented the PhD students with a more relaxed environment to discuss their respective projects and come up with new ideas through their colleagues to take home.

This marked the end of yet another very successful general assembly organized by the SPP2100 coordination team at match.

We would like to thank all the participants for inspiring four days, in many ways.

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