Announcing the Winners of the 2016 Annual Soft Robotics Competitions

We are excited to announce the winners of the 2016 Soft Robotics Design Competitions! 

But first, we here on the Toolkit development team, want to extend an enormous thank you to all of the participants, not just the winners. It is crucial to the advancement of soft robotics that new and innovative ideas are generated and pursued, and you have all helped push this technology forward by submitting your entries. Soft Robotics is a new field full of unexplored corners. By sharing our work in forums like this, we inspire and support one another, and push the field in exciting new directions. We hope everyone competes again next year (and bring your friends!).

This year, for the second time, the Soft Robotics Toolkit has hosted a competition in which 80+ teams have put in tremendous effort to develop and showcase novel robots and fundamental research related to soft robotics. We divided up the competitions into three categories, as you will see below. The first category is a prize for the most significant contribution to fundamental research in soft robotics. The second is a design competition for college level students and enthusiasts to develop novel robots using tools found on our website. The third category is a design competition for high school students also designing novel, soft robots. 

As expected based on last year's competition, the quality of the 2016 entries was extremely high; none of us envied the task we put to our panel of expert judges. After much deliberation, the winners and runners-up for each category have been selected. Please find details below.

Prize for Contributions in Soft Robotics Research

WinnerTactip (Bristol Robotics Lab, Bristol, UK)

Runner up: Tunable Soft Segmented Actuators (Harvard University, MA, USA)

Soft Robotics Design Competitions

College WinnerBio-Inspired Manta Ray Robot (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, MA, USA)

College Runner up: Hand Gesture Controlled Soft Robot Manipulator (The Open University of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka)

College Runner up: Underwater Hydrojetting System (Cornell University, NY, USA)

High School WinnerFabric Reinforced Motion Control Robot (Robbinsville High School, NJ, USA)

High School Winner: Pneumatic Deformation Sensors (Horace Greeley High School, NY, USA)

Expert Judging Panel

Kevin Galloway
Director of Making, Assistant Research Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Vanderbilt University
Personal Profile

Through numerous interdisciplinary projects and collaborations, Dr. Galloway has built a multidisciplinary background that has grown to include mechanical design, materials science, advanced manufacturing, bioinspired design, human-centered design, robotics and medical devices. His current research interests include new approaches to design, rapid prototyping from the micro- to the macro-scale, active soft materials, and the manufacture and control of wearable robotic devices. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Kevin worked closely with the Harvard Microrobotics Lab led by Prof. Rob Wood and the Harvard Biodesign Lab led by Prof. Conor Walsh to build an internationally recognized soft robotics platform and has held several PI/Co-PI roles.

Rebecca Kramer
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Purdue University
The Faboratory

Dr. Rebecca Kramer founded The Faboratory in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University in 2013. She is the recipient of a NSF CAREER Award, NASA ECF Award, AFOSR YIP Award, and was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2015. Her research interests include soft robotics, stretchable electronics, responsive material actuators, soft material manufacturing, and soft-bodied control.

Yiğit Mengüç
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Oregon State University

Dr. Mengüç works at the interface of mechanical science and robotics, creating soft devices inspired by nature and applied to robotics. During his doctoral work at Carnegie Mellon he developed micro-scale robotic manipulators exploiting controllable adhesion and a self-cleaning adhesive that equaled the gecko’s toe in stickiness. Prior to joining the School of MIME, Dr. Mengüç was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, where he lead the development of hyper-elastic sensors for wearable motion tracking and soft robotics.

Eoin O'Cearbhaill
Lecturer/Assistant Professor in Bioengineering
University College Dublin
UCD Medical Device Design Group

Dr O'Cearbhaill obtained his BE (Biomedical) and PhD from NUI-Galway. His doctorate focused on applying mechanical stimulation to MSCs for vascular tissue engineering applications. Subsequently, he worked for Veryan Medical, before joining Creganna-Tactx, where he worked in both manufacturing and design service roles, helping to establish their Specialty Needles Division in Marlborough, MA. Prior to joining UCD, Dr. O'Cearbhaill was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School (Harvard-MIT Health Sciences & Technology Division; Dept. of Medicine, Brigham & Women's Hospital), where his research focused on the conception and development of medical devices and the delivery of next generation therapeutics in the laboratory of Prof. Jeffrey Karp. Dr O'Cearbhaill's interests include medical device innovation, design and commercialization (including minimally invasive devices and delivery systems), cell biomechanics, bioreactor design & tissue engineering, organ-on-chip and lab-on-a-chip systems.

Jamie Paik
Assistant Professor
Reconfigurable Robotics Lab

Dr. Jaime Paik is an Assistant Professor at the EPFL, in the Institute of Mechanical Engineering. During a post-doc at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, she designed and built a surgical instrument, the JAiMY, which is used for suturing in laparoscopic surgery. Dr. Paik received her BS and MS degrees from the University of British Columbia (Canada) and her PhD at Seoul National University (South Korea).

C. David Remy
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
University of Michigan
Robotics and Motion Lab

Prof. Remy is the head of the Robotics and Motion Laboratory. His research interests include the design, simulation, and control of legged robots, exoskeletons, and other nonlinear systems. Drawing inspiration from biology and biomechanics, he is particularly interested in the effect and exploitation of natural dynamic motions, the role of different gaits, and the possibility of force/torque controllable systems; both in conceptual models and in hardware realizations.

Ellen Roche
Post-doctoral Research Fellow, RCSI/NUI Galway, Ireland
Assistant Professor, MechE and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, MIT (starting September 2017)
Personal Profile

Dr. Roche received her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from NUIGalway, and went on to work in the medical device industry (Mednova, Abbott Vascular and Medtronic) before receiving her MSc in Bioengineering from Trinity College Dublin. She completed her PhD at Harvard University under the guidance of Professor David Mooney in the Mooney Lab and Professor Conor Walsh  in the Harvard Biodesign LabTo date her research has focused on new approaches to cardiac device design as well as employing biomaterials to improve cell delivery and retention to the heart.

Adam A. Stokes
Lecturer in the Institute for Micro and Nano Systems and the Institute for Bioengineering
University of Edinburgh
Stokes Research Group

Dr. Adam Stokes is a lecturer in the Institute for Micro and Nano Systems (IMNS) and the Institute for Bioengineering (IBioE), at The University of Edinburgh. His research interests include: robotics, physical chemistry, electrical engineering, materials science, nanotechnology, optics, proteomics, and cell biology. He holds degrees in engineering, biomedical science, and chemistry. Dr. Stokes holds a prestigious appointment as a Member of The Royal Society of Edinburgh's Young Academy. Dr Stokes is PI of the Stokes Research Group, an interdisciplinary research laboratory at The University of Edinburgh.


Carl Vause
Chief Executive Officer
Soft Robotics, Inc.

Carl Vause is CEO of Soft Robotics Inc. with a wealth of experience holding a variety of senior positions in technology and medical device companies, most recently Vice President of Marketing at OmniGuide Surgical. Mr. Vause holds a M.B.A from London Business School and B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Virginia Military Institute.


See Entries from Previous Competitions


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