Material Robotics (MaRo)

Organizers: Yigit Menguc, Rebecca Kramer, Nikolaus Correll, Jamie Paik


The original vision of a "robot" introduced by Karel ńĆapek in 1920 was that of an autonomous machine molded in the image of humans. Interestingly, the play begins with a discussion of the materials that make up the robots and introduces the techniques used to spin and extrude such materials into synthetic body parts. Apparently, it was intuitive to imagine robots not just in our image but also from the same kind of active squishy materials. Considering robots as closely influenced by and contributing to the study of materials can make this vision a reality. The goal of this workshop is bring together researchers in robotics and materials science to learn from each other, and identify the research challenges and applications of robotic materials. Robotic materials are a new class of multifunctional composites that tightly integrate sensing, actuation, computation, and communication. Material robots are a new class of autonomous machines that exploit material properties to extend and expand normal robotic operations. The convergence of the two approaches results in such capabilities as changing appearance, stiffness or shape in response to the environment while performing large-scale distributed computation right where the signals are generated and control is needed. Applications range from underwater robots that withstand crushing hydrostatic pressures yet safely grasp artifacts, soft adaptive fabrics that actively support and diagnose medical conditions, airplane wings that self-diagnose and morph, civil engineering structures that self-monitor and adapt to their users' needs, and multifunctional everyday objects ranging from furniture to tableware that change shape or color for the occasion.