The 2015 Prize for Contributions in Soft Robotics


The 2015 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


  • 1 Grand prize
  • 3 Runners-up
  • Total cash prize up to $5,000!

How to Enter

To be considered for the prize, simply document your work on the Soft Robotics Toolkit website before June 15th 2015. 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 15th 2015. 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 (6/15/2015), you must provide detailed documentation describing your research project.  At a minimum, your documentation set should include:

  1. A 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. A Testing section describing the experimental procedure followed and the results obtained

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.

Important Dates

  • Now: Submissions open. We advise you to begin documenting your work as soon as possible!
  • May 15th: Final chance to alert toolkit team of intention to submit.
  • June 15th: 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.
  • July 15th August 15th: Winners announced.


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.

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)
    • Implementation: does this section describe the procedure used to implement the technology? Does it include useful visual aids? (5 points)
    • 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)


Dr. Kyujin Cho

Dr. Kyujin Cho is an Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at Seoul National University. His research interests are in biologically inspired robotics, micro machining, and smart actuators. Dr. Cho received his BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Seoul National University in 2002, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 2007.

Dr. Fumiya Iida

Dr. Fumiya Iida is a SNF professor for bio-inspired robotics at ETH Zurich. His research interest includes biologically inspired robotics, embodied artificial intelligence, and biomechanics, where he was involved in a number of research projects related to dynamic legged locomotion, navigation of autonomous robots, and human-machine interactions. Dr. Iida received his bachelor and master degrees in mechanical engineering at Tokyo University of Science in 1999 and Dr. sc. nat. in Informatics at the University of Zurich in 2006.

Dr. Cecilia Laschi

Dr. Cecilia Laschi is a professor of Biorocotics at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Pisa, Italy. She has been investigated bioinspired solutions for personal and service robotics including bioinspired sensory-motor control schemes for humanoid robotics as well as designing robotic replicas that can fully explain the biological working principles and mechanisms of animal and vegetal systems. Dr. Laschi received her Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Pisa in 1993 as well as a Ph. D. in Robotics from the University of Genova, Italy, in 1998.

Dr. Carmel Majidi

Dr. Carmel Majidi is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. His research focuses on unique combinations of rapid prototyping, soft-lithography microfabrication, and theoretical insights from solid mechanics that have led to innovations in liquid-embedded elastomer electronics (LE3) for stretchable sensors, circuits, and wearable computing. Dr. Majidi received a B.S. from Cornell University in 2001, an M.S. from the University of California at Berkeley 2004, as well as a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 2007.

Dr. Cagdas Onal

Dr. Cagdas Onal is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He focuses on building unconventional, bio-inspired flexible systems and components to push the envelope in robotics research. Dr. Onal has a B.S. and M.S. degree from Sabanci University in 2003 and 2005 and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in 2009.

Dr. Jamie Paik

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).

Dr. Robert Shepherd

Dr. Robert Shepherd is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University. His research focuses on developing disruptive manufacturing technologies (e.g., 3D printing, replica molding, microfluidics, etc.) and functional materials to enable new devices and user experiences. Dr. Shepherd received his B.S. (2002) and Ph.D. (2010) in Material Science at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Adam A. Stokes

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. Dr. Stokes has a BEng in Electronics and Electrical Engineering from The University of Edinburgh in 2006, a MSc in Biomedical Science from The University of Glasgow in 2007 and a PhD in Chemistry/Engineering from The University of Edinburgh in 2010.