2016 Prize for Contributions in Soft Robotics Research


The 2016 prize for Contributions in Soft Robotics is intended to support and promote research that advances the field of soft robotics. Researchers are invited to submit original work to the Soft Robotics Toolkit website in order to be considered for the award. Eligible entries might include contributions in:

  • New soft robotics component technologies (actuators, sensors, pumps, valves, control hardware, etc.)
  • New modeling and analysis approaches for compliant electromechanical systems
  • New control architectures (hardware and/or software) for soft robotics systems
  • New experimental procedures for characterizing soft systems


The best projects will be featured on the soft robotics toolkit website. In addition, there will be a grand prize awarded to the author(s) of the best contribution, as well as a few smaller prizes for runners up.

How to Enter

To be considered for the prize, simply document your work on the Soft Robotics Toolkit website by June 2016. It is expected that, if participants have an interest in potential intellectual property arising from their work, they will handle this with their home institution prior to submission. You will retain all intellectual property and credit for the work. All website contributions that meet the eligibility criteria will automatically be considered for the prize. Details of how to submit your work to the website can be found here:


  • The work must have been published or accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal or conference proceedings.
  • Details of the research must have been documented on the Soft Robotics Toolkit website before June 2016. The quality of this documentation will be considered as part of the judging process (see below).
  • Research conducted by either individuals or teams is eligible.


By the deadline, you must provide detailed documentation describing your research project.  At a minimum, your documentation set should include:

  1. Design section providing an overview of the technology, the reason that it is an important contribution, and its strengths and weaknesses;
  2. An Implementation section documenting in detail how you implemented the technology and containing files that another researcher would require to replicate your work (e.g. source code, FEM input files, CAD files, bills of materials);
  3. Testing section describing the experimental procedure followed and the results obtained. This section should also include high quality images and a 30-second infomercial-style video of the technology. 

The focus here is on replicability: the documentation should be more detailed than a typical research paper. In particular, the Implementation section should provide enough detail to enable a student to replicate the work with no additional assistance. Examples of complete documentation sets can be found here and here.

To be considered for the prize, entrants should expect to dedicate significant effort (i.e. beyond that of a standard academic paper) to provide high quality documentation (e.g. multimedia tutorials or protocols) and all related files along with clear instructions so someone can easily adapt to their own needs. Contributions based on exciting research alone will likely not be competitive. Our goal is to build an intellectual toolkit to enable replication of work between research groups and institutions.

Registration is now CLOSED! The deadline for registering for this year's competition has passed. Thank you and good luck to all the teams competing!

Important Dates

  • January 2016: Submissions open. We advise you to begin documenting your work as soon as possible!
  • May 31st, 2016: Final chance to alert toolkit team of intention to submit.
  • June 30th, 2016: Webpage freeze. Entrants must have uploaded their documentation and made it public by this date. Entrants will not be permitted to edit their webpages while judging is in process.
  • August 2016: Winners announced.

Scoring Rubric (50 points total)

  • Project Idea (20 points)
    • Contribution: does the entry represent a significant contribution to the field of soft robotics? (5 points)
    • Specifications: are the goals of the project clearly defined? Are the criteria for success provided? (5 points)
    • Quality: is the proposed solution interesting and novel? (10 points)
  • Project Implementation (10 points)
    • Implementation: did the entry accomplish the stated goals? (10 points)
  • Project Documentation (20 points):
    • Replicability: is the documentation well-written and easy to understand? Would it be possible for one of your students to replicate the work with no additional support from the original researchers? (5 points)
    • Design: does this section include an overview of the contribution as well as a discussion of its strengths, weaknesses, and potential modifications? (5 points) Example of a high scoring design section.
    • Implementation: does this section describe the procedure used to implement the technology? Does it include useful visual aids? (5 points) Example of a high scoring implementation section.
    • Testing: Does the documentation include a demonstration of the technology? Does it describe tests that were done to characterize the technology, and are the results of testing provided? (5 points) Example of a high scoring testing section.


An international panel of soft robotics experts will score all entries based on the rubric below. Judges will be assigned such that no judge is evaluating work conducted at his or her own institution. Details of the judging panel will be announced in the coming months.