The 1st Interantional Winter School will cover the following topics:

  • Fundamentals of smart (self healing, sensing, actuating) materials, biology and design, actuation, sensing and control/AI in soft robotics
  • Integration smart materials in soft robotics
  • Applications of smart materials and soft and growing robotics
  • Relevant societal and economic impact and personal development (transferable skills) as presentation skills, science communication, ethics, exploitation)

In addition, we aim to organise out-of-the-box ateliers teaching creative skills that are normally not covered during conferences. 


 With most of the COVID restriction gradually being lifted, we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to invite people to Cambridge (UK) in December. Currently,  we are assessing if we can run the workshop physically and online. The registration for this event is OPEN and you are very welcome to express your interest. 

Proposed Programme

Location: Cambridge, UK

Sunday, 12 December (Arrival): Registration and Reception. Intro session to the Summer School followed by lecture and talks. Evening “Get-together” Event.

Day 1, Mon 13 December: Fundaments of materials, biology and Robotics. ‘Beer-n-pizza’ poster session where we invite the participants to present their own research. 

Day 2, Tues 14 December: Integration: smart sensors and smart actuators followed by Afternoon workshop (3 groups). Evening session on Research Ethics. 

Day 3, Wed 15 December: Integration: Smart control followed by Afternoon social activity (Robotic/General knowledge quiz)

Day 4, Thurs 16 December: Applications + Afternoon workshop (in 3 groups) followed by an evening Panel discussion

Day 5, Friday 17 December: Industrial use cases followed by a Farewell event

Day 6, Saturday 18 December: Breakfast and departure

Workshop Activities

In addition to lectures, talks and seminars, the Winter School will be running the following workshops:

‘Introduction to SOFA’ 

SOFA is an open-source framework primarily targeted at real-time simulation with an emphasis on medical simulation that implements a wide range of mechanical models as well as numerical solvers and associated tools. For about ten years, SOFA is being used in many different projects. Participants will be given an extensive introductory tutorial to possible software uses. Applications and simulation prototypes will be developed in the context of the final research projects.

‘Cut and weld your own self-healing soft robot’ 

This workshop will be CAD design of a soft inflatable robot that will be laser-cut and welded using Diels Alder self-healing material. The workshop will handle the impact of process parameters as speed, power on the the chemistry of the self-healing material. The aim of this workshop is to get a hand-on experience with self-healing materials and to learn about qualities and challenges of using them. Please note since goes fast, we can handle many students that will work in group.

‘AI for Soft material modelling and control’

This workshop will be an Introduction to AI for soft robotics. The session will cover basics principles of using machine-learning tools for modelling soft materials, sensors and designs for characterization and control of soft Robotics technologies. Off-the-shelf tools and techniques for analyzing and interpreting these highly non-linear materials will be introduced and shared during the workshop sessions.

‘Workshop on plant robots’

During the workshop, students will build a biohybrid wind energy harvester based on a living plant and flexible soft electrodes generating electricity from leaves’ motion created by wind. Students will be assessing different materials and electrodes shapes and as a result learn how plants and their natural materials can integrate into a biohybrid device for
producing electricity. The students will also learn about the triboelectric effect, how different materials influence it and how it occurs in plants. The final challenge is to create a simple circuit to harvest the energy and power as much LEDs as possible.

‘Workshop on the design of a self-healing material’

Participants will be introduced to the relationships between the chemical structure of soft-healing materials and their properties (mechanical, viscoeslastic, transition temperatures, etc.).  They will also learn how other functional properties can be added by adding functional groups, blending of materials or additive fillers. As it is not feasible to synthesize new materials, the students will be given case studies in groups for which they need to design a new material. Example materials will be available along with information sheets with the properties of the materials. 

‘Tutorial on soft robot manipulation’

This workshop introduces the technologies and techniques to handle soft objects with soft robots. Participants can learn the methods of designing assembling and control of sensorised soft grippers. Testing and experimenting of the soft robot grippers will then be conducted by integrating into robotic arms to do some practical tasks such as food handling, crop harvesting, cooking, robotic surgery and palpation.