Science of Soft Robots – Interdisciplinary integration of mechatronics, material science, and bio-computing

A01-1 : Elucidation of dynamic behaviors in an elastic continuum and biomechanics integration

Group members

Leader Ryuma Niiyama (The University of Tokyo)
Members Hiromi Mochiyama (University of Tsukuba)
Megu Gunji (National Museum of Nature and Science)


To realize “soft bodies” as the foundation of science for soft robots, we aim to develop robots with agility and dexterity by introducing a body axis consisting of a continuum. In animals, the trunk (neck/spine/tail), which contributes to soft movements, can be regarded as a cord-like continuous body with viscoelasticity. For example, a cheetah’s bending back allows it to run at high speeds, a monkey’s tail allows it to hang, and a heron’s neck allows it to capture fish quickly. By integrating robotics and biomechanics, we will pioneer a new robot design theory that incorporates learning from organisms.

Our research plan consists of modeling and simulating the dynamics of the elastic continuum, developing a hybrid cord-like continuum that combines soft and hard tissues based on the anatomy/morphology of an animal, extracting skills from complex exercises of human and animals, and conducting experiments where robots perform manipulations and locomotion.

In planning the research of the A01 group, we intend to tackle various soft exercisers such as wings and fins that cooperate with the trunk as well as issues associated with the construction of these structures with living materials. In addition, we will proactively collaborate with the A02 group for elemental technologies such as flexible sensors and artificial muscles that control movement as well as the A03 group for information processing embedded in soft bodies.