Soft Robotics: is it a new paradigm in robotics?

July 11, 2016 - 10:00 - 11:00

Gursel Alici, School of Mechanical, Materials and Mechatronic Engineering, ARC Center of Excellence for Electromaterials Science University of Wollongong, Australia

Monday, Mon July 11, 10 AM

MacLeod Building, room 418, 2356 Main Mall


As an emerging field of robotics, soft robotics is the science and engineering of the robots primarily made of soft materials, components and active structures such that they can safely interact and adapt with natural world better than their predecessors (i.e. robots made of hard components). In parallel to recent developments in soft smart materials and additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing), it has been gathering significant momentum to bring a new dimension to the establishment of new robotic concepts. The progress in soft robotics will have a significant impact especially on medical applications including prosthetic limbs or devices, wearable robots, assistive devices, and rehabilitation devices. When there is an application for which a safe human-machine interaction and adaptability with a physical environment are required, there is a need for robotic arms or systems or components with adjustable stiffness, made of soft materials with programmable characteristics. The progress in soft robotics strongly depends on the progress in materials science and technology. In this talk, we will present what soft robotics is, outline the significance of soft materials in establishing soft robotic systems, and some of the current research challenges in the field.

Gursel Alici received the Ph.D. degree in robotics from the Department of Engineering Science, Oxford University, Oxford, U.K., in 1994. He is currently a Professor at the University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia, where he is the Head of the School of Mechanical, Materials and Mechatronic Engineering since 2011. His research interests are soft robotics, system dynamics and control, robotic drug delivery systems, novel actuation concepts for biomechatronic applications, robotic mechanisms and manipulation systems, soft and smart actuators and sensors, and medical robotics. He has published more than 300 refereed publications in his areas of research.

Dr. Alici was a Technical Editor of the IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics during 2008–2012. He is a Technical Editor of the IEEE Access, the first IEEE open access journal with interdisciplinary scope. He is a Member of the Mechatronics National Panel formed by the Institution of Engineers, Australia. He has served on the international program committee of numerous IEEE/ASME International Conferences on Robotics and Mechatronics. He was the General Chair of the 2013 IEEE/ASME International Conference on Advanced Intelligent Mechatronics held in Wollongong, Australia. He is the leader of Soft Robotics for Prosthetic Devices theme of the ARC Center of Excellence for Electromaterials Science. He received the Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning Award in 2010 and the 2013 Vice-Chancellor’s Interdisciplinary Research Excellence Award from the University of Wollongong.

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