616 Advances in Modeling and Simulation of Soft Robots and Realization of Technical Applications

Wolfgang Dornisch, University of Kaiserslautern
Oliver Weeger, Singapore University of Technology and Design
Kristin M. de Payrebrune, University of Kaiserslautern
Developing bio-inspired soft robots is the objective of many research programs worldwide due to their potential benefits in applications to healthcare, cooperative human assistance, and rescue situations. Thereby, the aim is to transfer the basic principles of animal and human behavior in order to create robots which can cope with unpredictable situations due to their bio-mimetic character. Like the human body, soft robots are not optimized for one single task but can cope with a range of possible cases. This includes the ability to adapt to obstacles, handle fragile objects, safely interact with humans, and easily change their motion pattern.
Many challenges have to be overcome to develop soft robots with the desired flexibility to adapt to a multitude of usage scenarios. These challenges include the development of soft actuators which do not constrain their deformability and act as muscles, the control of unconstrained bodies, the elaboration of new power supply and storage strategies which are lightweight and can be carried by soft robots, the development of neural network-like learning methods, as well as the formulation of simulation methods to model highly deformable soft continua and their contact with the surrounding. Indeed, all aforementioned challenges are strongly connected to each other. In order to address the related tasks, exchange and collaboration in a highly interdisciplinary community is required.
The focus of this Minisymposium is set on the mechanical modelling and simulation of deformations and kinetics of soft robots, which is an essential component for their design. While traditional robots can be modelled using rigid body motions and kinematics, soft compliant robots undergo elasto-dynamic deformations, which are described by continuum or structural mechanics and require computational discretization. Thus, computational simulation of soft robots is much more challenging, because large deformations and rotations, and nonlinear or viscoelastic material behavior have to be considered, and dynamic analysis has to be performed. This calls for the development of efficient numerical methods, which are targeted at soft robotics applications, and balance computational accuracy with efficiency and sophistication of the used models. Additionally, uniting numerical and experimental work plays an important role to validate the developed models and to expand the knowledge of soft robotics.
This Minisymposium aims at gathering experts from both computational mechanics and experimental mechanics with the common aim of developing models and methods for the numerical simulation of soft robots, and analyses of the feasibility as technical applications.