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

A03-2 : Research on soft robotics through the creation of stochastic machines

Research team

Leader Shingo Maeda (Shibaura Institute of Technology)
Member Hideyuki Sawada (Waseda University)
Research collaborators Hiroki Shigemune (Waseda University)
Takanobu Miwa (Waseda University)


In advanced mechatronics, machine complexity is an issue. We focus on overcoming the complexity of machines through ultra-miniturization and super-integration of electronic elements and mechanical elements, programming, and wiring. We aim to realize “soft intelligence” in smart materials toward soft robotics in a stochastic way.

Previously we focused on the fact that chemical reactions have stochastic mechanisms and chemically combined oscillating reactions and smart gels to realize functions in smart gels that spontaneously oscillate, walk, and exhibit peristalsis. Considering the oscillating reaction as an information processing system, spatiotemporal order is generated in a gel due to changes in concentration, and consequently, spontaneous gel motion is induced. That is, movement or deformation, which is the most important function of a robot, is possible. In addition, by applying a pulse signal of several to several hundred Hz to a fine wire composed of a shape memory alloy, which is a smart material, and by controlling the probability density, we realized a dynamic haptic sense presentation technique. This had been a challenge. Moreover, we reduced the size and power consumption of the device.

Here we strive to give stochastic elements and interpretations to smart materials to realize soft robots where the entire system works well. In this way, we aim to create a “stochastic machine” that does not precisely control the system but builds the science of information processing of smart materials. We will make an intuitive interpretation by visualizing the relation among variables in multidimensional data without degenerating information.