Democratization of Soft Robotics through Embodied Intelligence

IEEE RoboSoft Full-day Workshop | 14 April 2024

Building upon the success of the annual Conference on Embodied Intelligence with over 100 speakers and 1000 participants, this workshop aims to advance discussions on democratizing soft robotics through the perspective of embodied intelligence. Amidst the long-standing philosophical debate on the mind-body relationship, our primary goal is to delve into the profound scientific implications of embodied intelligence in soft robotics research, specifically focusing on enabling robots for intricate social interactions.

The workshop’s objectives are twofold. Firstly, we explore the convergence of embodied intelligence and soft robotics technology, drawing insights from recent advancements to address conceptual challenges and translate them into tangible, physical solutions. Secondly, our aim is to broaden participation by engaging soft robotics researchers from diverse communities.

By emphasizing collaboration and community engagement, this workshop actively contributes to the ongoing paradigm shift in soft robotics research. It advocates for a holistic and inclusive approach to technological advancement, echoing the success and significance of previous discussions within the collaborative community. To push the boundaries of soft robotics, our commitment lies in fostering a community-driven approach to technological development, with a dedicated focus on embodied intelligence to bridge the gap between technology and human experiences.

Tentative Program

Our Speakers and Provisional Titles

  1. Allison Okamura, Stanford University, USA
  2. Jonas Jorgensen, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark: “Embodied Knowledge for Embodied Intelligence: Interfacing Art-Based Methods and Soft Robotics”
  3. Ilana Nisky, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel: “Embodied intelligence in physical interaction between surgeons and robots
  4. Richard Futrell, University of California, Irvine, USA: “Information bottlenecks in human language processing
  5. Dana Damian, University of Sheffield, UK: “More fluidics, less electronics: soft robots based on minimal and accessible resources, with applications to healthcare
  6. Thilina Lalitharatne, Queen Mary University of London, UK: “Towards Information-Theoretic Approaches to Understand Embodied Social Interactions
  7. Barbara Mazzolai, Italian Institute of Technology, Italy: “Embodied Intelligence in plants and plantoids” 
  8. Cecilia Laschi, National University of Singapore, Singapore: “Embodied Intelligence for soft robotics sustainable growth
  9. Ankur Mehta, University of California, Los Angeles, USA: “The power of paper
  10. Onur Ozcan, Bilkent University, Turkey: “Lowering the price point of soft robots as a means to democratization
  11. Laura Blumenschein, Purdue University, USA
  12. Eduardo Bayro-Corrochano, CINVESTAV, Mexico
  13. Fumiya Iida, University of Cambridge, UK
  14. Riaan Stopforth, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  15. Tania Morimoto, University of California, San Diego, USA: “Soft haptic interfaces for teleoperating continuum robots
  16. Thrish Nanayakkara, Imperial College London, UK: “How interactive robotic patients can help medical trainees to be robust in diverse social contexts”



Calls for Contributions

We welcome researchers in the field to submit their work to be presented during the workshop in flash-talk and poster formats (see program above). The submitted abstracts (2 pages maximum) should be in pdf format. The submitted contributions will go through a single-blind review process and be selected based on the originality, technical contributions, clarity in presentation, and relevance to the workshop topics. Work-in-progress research is also welcome. Please use the form for your abstract submissions. 

Upon acceptance, presenters will be given a link to submit a teaser slide. The presenter should bring their printed poster to the conference venue. Also, note that presenters need to be registered at the RoboSoft conference, at least for the day of the workshop. The deadline for the abstract submission is 24 March 2024, 11:59 PM GMT. If you have any questions and feedback, please send an email to Nana Obayashi.

“Soft Robotics on a Budget” is a global robot design competition. Participants from around the world will compete in coming up with the most ingenious solution to a specific, real-life robotics problem. There is only one catch: the entire robot must be built on an extremely low budget, under $50.

This limitation will encourage the participants to showcase their creativity in using easily accessible DIY materials, tools, and equipment, to create robot prototypes that are subtle in their simple, low-cost nature, yet extremely powerful in terms of delivering capability that is on par with expensive, state-of-the-art devices: a hallmark of the embodied intelligence offered by the rapidly evolving field of biologically inspired, and soft, robotics.

We encourage participation from early-stage researchers, as well as students; the 3 winners (or winning teams) will be invited to present their designs at the workshop. 

The initiative is an excellent opportunity to get involved with soft robotics research; the extremely low barrier to entry empowers participants from disenfranchised communities, as well as low-income countries. In showcasing one’s skills to the whole soft robotics community, and the leading researchers in the field, the participants and winners will be able to strongly boost their portfolio, and even put themselves in front of possible future employers, or postgraduate project supervisors.

Submissions should be sent to Kyle Walker by 31 March, 2024.