IROS 2022 FULL-DAY WORKSHOP: Soft Robots for Humanity

Organized by Jan Peters and Ditzia Susana García Morales, the full-day workshop Soft Robots for Humanity at this year's International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Kyoto was an exciting event that attracted many participants in-person and online. The workshop aimed to identify current applications for soft robotic systems and highlight the opportunities for soft robots shaping a symbiotic society and a better world of tomorrow.

Participants had the opportunity to hear exciting technical presentations from renowned researchers on the fundamentals of ethics in robotics, robotics and AI education and soft robotic systems for a better world. Our workshop was opened with the presentation of Prof Allison Okamura from Stanford University with her talk “Soft Robots for Humanity”.

In the first session Robotics in society, Prof AJung Moon of McGill University presented "Our unsustainable future with interactive robots" and Dennis Kambeitz, founder of Robots.Education, presented his keynote talk "40 Minutes that Change Everything". Afterwards we had two inspirational talks by Marwa ElDiwiny from the  Soft Robotics Podcast "Follow your passion: The story behind the Soft Robotics Podcast" and "Design & Deployment of Development Platforms for Wide Impact" by Ali Shtarbanov from MIT Media Lab. During the second Session, which was about Soft Robots for Humanity, we had four presentations: Prof Kyu-Jin Cho from Seoul National University spoke about "Soft wearable robots for unmet needs of smart living", Prof Helge Wurdemann from University College London gave a presentation about "Soft, smart, stiffness-controllable: Interventional robots and sensors" and Prof Shahram Eivazi from FESTO presented "Bionics4Education”. Finally, Dr Ziyu Ren from the Max Planck Institute spoke about "Soft-bodied Wireless Miniature Medical Robots". The workshop ended with a Plenary Talk by Prof Alan Winfield from UWE Bristol "Towards a Responsible Soft Robotics".

In addition, we had a very interesting discussion session with deep conversations about the how soft robots and robotics in general can contribute to a better world of tomorrow, how funding agencies play a role in choosing research topics and what is needed to help researchers stay passionate about their research projects. Marwa ElDiwiny, Host of the Soft Robotics Podcast and Member of the Soft Robotics Debate organization team, moderated this debate.

Gender equality and support for young scientists from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds are of particular importance to us. Therefore, during this conference we were pleased to award six scholarships, which covered travel expenses and accommodation costs for the entire time of the conference, to young researchers from underrepresented backgrounds who had the opportunity to participate in this international conference.


Here is a summary of what the experience of the young researchers attending the conference was like:

“The Soft Robotics for Humanity workshop was a very enriching experience since I learned about the new advances and applications of soft robotics and how it can positively impact humanity. This experience taught me the extraordinary steps that technology with the help of soft robotics is taking. Emphasizing that technology is an expression of our intelligence and creativity, so the limitations of our technology are a reflection of our own limitations and our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds.”

- Denisse Niles, Ecuador


“Participating in the soft robotics for humanity workshop at IROS 2022 allowed me to realize the relevance that soft robotics research is taking, the different projects that are currently being developed, and become aware of how these developments can have a positive and negative impact on the future of humanity. Without a doubt, the best experience I have had, which allowed me to be in contact with researchers from all over the world and with a new culture, as well as allowing me to return to my country with new ideas, friends and a very broad panorama of intelligent robots and systems. Besides being an opportunity that increased my passion for research and motivated me to continue with my projects.”

- Maria Fernanda Garcia, Colombia


“I would like to dearly thank you for the opportunity to attend the IROS conference. Given that it was my first conference, I got to see how things go on in such an event. It was great to get in direct contact with people in the soft robotics domain and to get to ask them in person questions about their publications.

Probably one thing I got to learn is how clear and concise the presentation should be given the limited time and the variety of audience.

Regarding the 'soft robotics for humanity' workshop, it was really interesting. I preferred the part with more 'technical' presentations like that of 'Ali Shtarbanov, Prof Kyu-Jin Cho.'

Actually at first of the title, I thought the workshop would be discussing soft robotics applications for human benefit like in medical applications and so on.”

- Zeinab Awada, Lebanon


“During my participation in the “Soft Robotics for Humanity” workshop at IROS 2022, I was able to connect with, share ideas, and get new insights from some of the leading researchers in the field of soft robotics. The discussions and talks provided me with a better understanding of the challenges that need to be tackled while developing soft robots and keeping them safe for the better of humanity and our environment. The conference also allowed me to meet and connect with researchers from all sorts of disciplines and to get up to date with the new studies and research in various fields other than soft robotics such as mobile robots, manipulation, human-robot interaction, machine learning, and reinforcement learning, among other topics, but also the strong interconnection between all these fields, and the cumulative efforts of the robotics community to develop robots for a better sustainable future of our world. Overall, my participation in the IROS 2022 conference and workshops provided me with a valuable learning experience and gave me better guidance to continue my research in soft robotics and develop new ideas and robots to contribute to the field.”

- Samuel Youssef, Egypt


We would like to thank you all for your participation, especially to the keynote speakers: Allison Okamura (Stanford), Helge Wurdemann (UCL), Dennis Kambeitz (Founder: Robots.Education), AJung Moon (McGill University), Marwa ElDiwiny (Soft Robotics Podcast), Alan Winfield (UWE Bristol), Kyu-Jin Cho (Seoul National University), Ali Shtarbanov (MIT Media Lab), Shahram Eivazi (FESTO), Robert Katzschmann (ETH Zürich) and Ziyu Ren (MPI-IS).

We hope you enjoyed the workshop as much as we did. If you did not have the opportunity to join us in the workshop, you can watch it on our YouTube channel.

SPP 2100 Soft Material Robotics




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