From March 2nd, 2019 the first General Assembly of the Priority Programme „Soft Material Robotic Systems” (SPP 2100) took place in Schneverdingen, a small town in the northern part of the district of Heidekreis, in Lower Saxony, Germany. For three days, researchers from all over Germany got together and discussed ideas and current challenges in the area of soft robotics.
Professor Annika Raatz, coordinator of the project, inaugurated the event with a warm welcome to more than 35 Professors and Research Assistants working directly in the area of soft robotics, three keynote speakers and Professor Bert Müller, the DFG representative.
On the first day, the research assistants involved in projects related to the topic actively exchanged ideas and improved their soft skills in a workshop, where different aspects relevant to research where approached.
Over the last two days, a deeper discussion on "how to promote synergy between projects" took place between academics. As part of this, a series of keynote speeches were held, starting with the pioneer in soft robotics Professor Cecilia Laschi. She offered a stimulating contribution on the general state of research in soft robotics, with her keynote "Robotics goes soft: challenges and achievements, for new robotics scenarios". Afterwards Dr Adam Stokes impressively conveyed his view of the state of soft robotics in his talk with the title "Bioinspired Engineering in the Soft Systems Group" where he addressed the applicability of soft robotics. Finally, Professor Mikhail Chamonine offered the last keynote. Entitled "Magnetoactive elastomers: extraordinary properties and physics of iron in rubber", it redirected the attention to smart materials. During these keynotes, the assistants gained new perspectives and were able to ask questions.
Furthermore, the progress of the funded projects was presented with lively discussions and a poster session. In a more relaxed environment, the participants had the opportunity to talk about their improvements and receive valuable feedback.
Finally, the Best Poster Award was presented to the project "Soft tensegrity structures with variable stiffness and shape-changing ability".
Congratulations to Stefan Henning, Jhohan Chavez-Vega, Prof. Lena Zentner and Prof. Valter Böhm!
We thank all participants of the General Assembly for their commitment, the interesting discussions and enriching conversations!