EventProf. Cecilia Laschi
Robotics goes soft: challenges and achievements, for new robotics scenarios
Abstract: Soft robotics is a young yet promising approach to develop deformable robots that can adapt to the environment and exploit interaction for accomplishing real-world tasks. Largely inspired by the observation of the role of soft tissues in living organisms, the use of soft materials for building robots is recognized as one of the current challenges for pushing the boundaries of robotics technologies and building robotic systems for service tasks in natural environments. The study of living organisms sheds light on principles that can be fruitfully adopted to develop additional robot abilities or to facilitate more efficient accomplishment of tasks, because living organisms exploit soft tissues and compliant structures to move effectively in complex natural environments. Widely growing worldwide, soft robotics has produced already interesting achievements in terms of technologies for actuation, sensing, control, and many more. In addition to allowing more applications for robots, soft robotics technologies are enabling robot abilities that were not possible before, like morphing, stiffening, growing, self-healing, evolving. They open up new scenarios for robotics that brings towards more life-like robots, effectively and efficiently adaptable to their environments and tasks.
Bio: Cecilia Laschi is Full Professor of Biorobotics at the BioRobotics Institute of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy, where she serves as Rector’s delegate to Research. She graduated in Computer Science at the University of Pisa in 1993 and received the Ph.D. in Robotics from the University of Genoa in 1998. In 2001-2002 she was JSPS visiting researcher at Waseda University in Tokyo.Her research interests are in the field of soft robotics, a young research area that she pioneered and contributed to develop at international level, including its applications in marine robotics and in the biomedical field. She has been working in humanoid robotics and neurorobotics, at the merge of neuroscience and robotics. She is in the Editorial Boards of several international journals. She serves as reviewer for many journals, including Nature and Science, for the European Commission, including the ERC programme, and for many national research agencies. She is member of the IEEE, of the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS), and of the Robotics & Automation Society (RAS), where she served as elected AdCom member and currently is Co-Chair of the TC on Soft Robotics. She founded and served as General Chair for the IEEE-RAS First International Conference on Soft Robotics in Livorno, in April 24-28, 2018. She is founding member of RoboTech srl, spin-off company of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, in the sector of edutainment robotics.