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Stiffening techniques for soft robotics

A Workshop at the IEEE RoboSoft 2024

San Diego, CA USA

April 14-17, 2024

7th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Soft Robotics



One of the key challenges in soft robotics is to effectively achieve and control stiffness. Soft robots must be compliant for enhanced dexterity and safe interaction with the environment, but stiffness is essential for force transmission when needed. The design of a soft robot involves finding a balance between being stiff enough to exert significant forces for task performance and precision, and being compliant enough to adapt to the environment. Various techniques have been used to achieve stiffness variation in soft robots, including vacuum-induced jamming structures, shape memory materials, low melting point materials, electro-magnetorheological materials, electroactive polymers, and flexible fluidic actuators. These methods can be compared based on their stiffening and de-stiffening rates, stiffening modes, and the amount of stiffness variation. This workshop aims to bring together experts to present recent advances in stiffening techniques in the field of soft robotics. Distinguished experts from academia will give seminars on their developed techniques and engage in critical discussions on their prerequisites, performance, and limitations. The workshop will include networking events to increase interaction among participants.


This workshop will focus on the mechanisms used for stiffening and de-stiffening in soft robotic applications. Our comprehensive half-day program will begin with a welcome. Following the opening and introductory session, presentations will cover various concepts related to variable stiffness mechanisms in soft robotics.

Participants in this workshop will gain insight into various stiffening mechanisms, understanding their importance, advantages and disadvantages in robotic applications. They will also learn about state-of-the-art examples of variable stiffness and real-world applications of stiffening mechanisms. Most importantly, attendees will engage in discussions with the speakers, addressing questions to explore grand challenges.


Variable stiffening mechanisms, Jamming mechanisms, Low melting point materials, Electroactive polymers, Electro-magnetorheological materials, Shape memory materials, Flexible fluidic actuators, Real-time stiffening mechanisms, Control strategies for stiffening mechanisms.

Tommaso Ranzani

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Boston University

Niccolo Pagliarani

BioRobotics Institute

Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna

Buse Aktas

Robotics and Intelligent Systems

ETH Zurich

Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio

Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Yale University

Kaspar Althoefer

School of Engineering and Materials Science

Queen Mary University of London

Taylan Atakuru

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Boğaziçi University

Name Affiliation Country Ref.
Tommaso Ranzani Department of Mechanical Engineering, Boston University USA [1]
Niccolo Pagliarani BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna Italy [2]
Rebecca Kramer- Bottiglio Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Yale University USA [3]
Buse Aktas Robotics and Intelligent Systems, ETH Zurich Switzerland [4]
Kaspar Althoefer School of Engineering and Materials Science, Queen Mary University of London UK [5]
Taylan Atakuru, Evren Samur Department of Mechanical Engineering, Boğaziçi University Turkey [6,7]

Time Speaker Topic
13:30-13:50 Evren Samur Icebreaker/Intro
13:50-14:15 Kaspar Althoefer From stiff to floppy: Stiffening approaches for fluidically actuated soft robots
14:15-14:40 Taylan Atakuru, Evren Samur Jamming of Magnetorheological Elastomers
14:40-15:05 Tommaso Ranzani Real-time electronically controllable stiffness modulation for soft robotics
15:05-15:30 Buse Aktas Multidimensional Stiffness Tunability for Robotic Structures through Jamming
15:30-16:00 Coffee break/Networking
16:00-16:25 Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio The role of rigidity in soft morphing robots
16:25-16:50 Niccolo Pagliarani Empowering soft robots through Jamming transition-based system
16:50-17:30 Networking


  • Evren Samur
    Evren Samur


    Boğaziçi University, Department of Mechanical Engineering


  • Taylan Atakuru
    Taylan Atakuru


    Boğaziçi University, Department of Mechanical Engineering


  • Günay Züngör
    Günay Züngör


    Boğaziçi University, Department of Mechanical Engineering



The workshop is partially sponsored by the Robotics & AI Laboratories (ROYAL) project at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey, and Boğaziçi University Research Fund, grant number 19782.


We believe that there have been some recent advances [1-7] in the area of stiffening methods for soft robotics, and a workshop dedicated to this topic would be a great opportunity to learn more about them and identify the challenges that further work should address.