Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The rise of "soft robotics"

Today, my first publication on soft robots appears in the journal "Bioinspiration and Biomimetics". It is indeed very difficult to publish both in biology and robotics at the same time. Please check out the supplemental videos going along with my paper first. For more stories about the development of my other robots, feel free to browse some older posts.

Almost 5 years ago, I finished my B.A. in a hurry to plunge myself into the research of animal locomotion. As I accepted Tufts' Ph.D student position, I knew that I was caught in a wave of modern robotics innovation. Five years ago, "soft robotics" is a funny term. Even today, roboticists still debate what soft robots really are. In any case, "soft robotics" has transformed from a crazy talk to becoming an active field of research in the past few years. You will hear a lot more about soft robotics this year from me and from many other research teams around the world.

What really triggered this movement is not really clear. But I would venture to say that the DARPA ChemBot project certainly motivated and cultivated the first generation of soft roboticists in the United States. Many Ph.D students PostDocs alike were supported by this program to pursue soft robotics in many aspects. I was one of them.

Although I have received my Ph.D at Tufts and am now working as a postdoc at Harvard, I will continue to blog about caterpillars and soft robots as long as I am still publishing my thesis work throughout the summer. Beyond that point I will probably have to decide where to begin telling a new series of stories about my new pursuit in animal flight.

It's just the beginning!

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