Soft Robotics: The Next Generation of Intelligent Machines / 5
Rolf Pfeifer, Hugo Gravato Marques, Fumiya Iida

There has been an increasing interest in applying biological principles to the design and control of robots. Unlike industrial robots that are programmed to execute a rather limited number of tasks, the new generation of bio-inspired robots is expected to display a wide range of behaviours in unpredictable environments, as well as to interact safely and smoothly with human co-workers. In this article, we put forward some of the properties that will characterize these new robots: soft materials, flexible and stretchable sensors, modular and efficient actuators, self-organization and distributed control. We introduce a number of design principles; in particular, we try to comprehend the novel design space that now includes soft materials and requires a completely different way of thinking about control. We also introduce a recent case study of developing a complex humanoid robot, discuss the lessons learned and speculate about future challenges and perspectives.