In this area, we focus on “softness” peculiar to organisms as the platform of life phenomena. In various fields, academic studies that refer to softness occur individually. The international trend of science and technology “from hard to soft” is the background toward science and technology that is close to human and living things. An science are that organically bundles biology, information science, material science, and mechanical/electronic engineering is an unexplored area, and integration is desired. Introduction of softness brings an essential change accompanying the construction of a new academic area and we believe that a vast knowledge will be opened.
In this project, we propose “artificial autonomous systems based on the concept of biological systems” with the features of living organisms and define them as “soft robots” anew. The soft body of a living thing, its form, structure, mechanism, and information processing are fundamentally different from artificial things we can build at the present day. We call this frontier the new academic area “Science of Soft Robots.” The aim of this area is to integrate new academic challenges in each field and to create an active academic trend toward science of soft robots.
The new academic area “Science of Soft Robots” not only imitates and reproduces organisms but also learns from living things, but also to learn from biological systems and to make artificial systems beyond living things. The framework consists of “soft robot design theory”, “soft robot material science”, and “soft robot informatics”.
Soft Robot Design Theory aims to blend mechatronics and biomechanics. It aims to allow flexible and elastic body. Also included is a biohybrid device incorporating living cells. Soft Robot Material Science creates flexible movements by smart material that has never been used on machines. We focus on soft mechanisms, electronics with extreme softness/elasticity, artificial muscle comparable to biological muscle using polymer material. Soft Robot Informatics aims to design smart and flexible intelligence in which software and hardware are inseparably combined. By utilizing the soft material dynamics as an information processing device, we aim to break through the limits of conventional information processing. In addition, by introducing a chemical reaction system on a soft body, we obtain spontaneous periodic motion and chemical body clock.