Announcing the Winners of the 2018 Annual Soft Robotics Competitions


We are excited to announce the winners of the 2018 Soft Robotic Design Competition and the annual Prize for Research Award!

With a goal of advancing the field though invited submissions from community members, we are excited to announce the selected winning submissions chosen for the Design Competition and the Prize for Research award.


Our annual competition draws hundreds of participants every year, with this year being no exception. To date, 24 research labs have contributed their work to the site and over 800 participants have been included in the annual event. The design category, separated into two groupings of participation, hosts a category for high school students and a category for university students and hobbyists. Participants document the design, fabrication and testing of their submitted soft robotic technology using an online wiki page that can be published to the online resource for others to leverage. Researchers at the doctoral level submit within a category reserved for published work that can be considered a contribution to the body of research. The Prize for Research is awarded to the most significant contribution of that year.


If you didn’t get a chance to compete please join us for next year’s competition! Without further ado please read below for a description of our winners.


Prize for Contributions in Soft Robotics Research


3D Silicone Printer (mLab Robotics, Oregon State University)

The 3D Silicone Printer adapts additive manufacturing to the soft robotics world. The team developed a micro-scale active mixing system for two-part materials allowing successful 3D prints of two part silicones in attempts to eliminate the need for the laborious and time-consuming molding methods.


Runner up

Laminar Jamming Structures (Harvard Biorobotics Lab, Harvard University)

Laminar Jamming Structures are structures that can alternate between highly flexible and extremely rigid states when a pressure gradient is applied. Soft robotic components with laminar jamming can be enabled to selectively exhibit mechanical properties similar to the ones seen in traditional rigid robots.


Soft Robotics Design Competitions

College Winner

Shape Memory Alloy Driven Whole Skin Locomotion (Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering)

Exploring the feasibility of using whole skin locomotion to facilitate the single continuous movement of an elongated fluid filled torus. Using shape memory alloy as contractile rings, this prototype allows the torus to inch forward due to posterior contraction.


College Runner up:

SeaHawk: Biomimetic Shape Deposition Manufacturing (SDM) Fin Propulsion Assisted Sea Glider (University of Kansas)

Seahawk is an autonomous underwater vehicle glider, modified with a soft actuator as its mechanism of forward propulsion and yaw control. Prototype attempts to increase maneuverability and adaptability of present gilders with the addition of soft robotic technologies.


High School Winner

The King Actuator (The Haverford School)

Using a single-mold system created from common household materials, the King Actuator utilizes soluble inserts to solve the problems of delamination common in two part molds. In addition, a soft robotic assistive glove for teaching wheel throwing for pottery was constructed, utilizing this developed molding process.


Honorable Mentions


ConTact Sensors (Rombolabs, University of Washington)


Soft Bending Actuation Module with Proprioceptive Curvature Sensing (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)



Expert Judging Panel

Ellen Roche
Assistant Professor, MechE and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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 Lab. To 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.


Panagiotis Polygerinos
Assistant Professor, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering
Arizona State University
Personal Profile

Prof. Polygerinos currently an assistant professor in the school of engineering at the Arizona State University Prof. Polygerinos research focuses on devices that have significant potential to improve patient care and human activity. As a Ph.D. candidate in the Centre for Robotics Research at King’s College London, Panagiotis designed, developed and evaluated miniature MRI compatible sensors for cardiac catheters under Prof. K. Althoefer. In 2012, he joined as a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Biodesign Lab with focus on soft robotic systems and wearable devices for people with upper extremity disabilities under Prof. C. Walsh and in collaboration with the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. He continued his research as a Wyss Postdoctoral Fellow of Technology Development and in collaboration with the Biodesign team developed new wearable assistive and medical technologies before going on to Arizona State University.


Fergal Coulter
Postdoctoral Researcher, 
Medical Device Design Group
University College Dublin
Personal Profile

Dr. Coulter is a post-doc in the UCD Medical Device Design Group, working on the design and fabrication of a bio-hybrid artificial pancreas. Alongside this, he has a joint appointment at ETH Zurich where he is continuing to investigate the topic of his PhD research. Completed at Nottingham Trent University, Dr. Coulter’s PhD, entitled “Additive manufacturing method for dielectric elastomer based cardiac assist device”, concentrates on the design of a system capable of “4D printing” silicone artificial muscles which contain varying levels of elastic strain throughout the object’s layers.


Bobak Mosadegh
Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering in Radiology
Weill Cornell Medical College
Personal Profile

Dr. Mosadegh received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor while working in the lab of Shuichi Takayama.  His research involved the development of microfluidic integrated circuits and various cell patterning methods using aqueous two-phase systems and microfluidic devices.  Under the guidance of George M. Whitesides, Dr. Mosadegh performed his postdoctoral training at Harvard University and the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering.  His research focused on developing two technologies, i) a 3D paper-based cell culture system for the study of ischemic gradients on cancer cells and cardiomyocytes, and ii) actuators and control systems for soft robotics. Dr. Mosadegh started as an Assistant Professor in the department of Radiology, at Weill Cornell Medicine, in Nov. of 2014. He also serves as a member of the Dalio Institute of Cardiovascular Imaging.


Utku Culha
Postdoctoral Researcher
Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems
Personal Profile

Dr. Culha is currently working on the design, imaging, tracking, control, testing, and applications of miniature medical robotic systems at the Physical Intelligence Department of Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany. His research involves creating soft robotic machines that can physically adapt to their environment by deforming their body morphologies having previously worked on mechanisms which generate asymmetric deformations on soft thermoplastic materials for adaptive robotic sensing, locomotion and manipulation. Here, he adopts a bottom-up approach similar to biology and achieve physical adaptation in much smaller scales.


Hong Kai Yap
Chief Technology Officer
Roceso Technologies
Personal Profile

Dr. Hong Kai Yap is a PhD graduate from National University of Singapore Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering. His research areas include soft wearable robotics, assistive and rehabilitation robotics. He is currently the Chief Technology Officer of Roceso Technologies, a soft robotic medical technologies company for rehabilitation and assistance.




See Entries from Previous Competitions

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