Soft robots are often inspired from biological systems which consist of soft materials or are actuated by electrically activated materials. There are several advantages of soft robots compared to the conventional robots; safe human-machine interaction, adaptability to wearable devices, simple gripping system, and so on. Due to the unique features and advantages, soft robots have a considerable range of applications. This article reviews state-of-the-art researches on soft robots and application areas. Actuation systems for soft robots can be categorized and analyzed into three types: variable length tendon, fluidic actuation, and electro-active polymer (EAP). The deformable property of soft robots restricts the use of many conventional rigid sensors such as encoders, strain gauges, or inertial measurement units. Thus, contactless approaches for sensing and/or sensors with low modulus are preferable for soft robots. Sensors include low modulus (< 1 MPa) elastomers with liquid-phase material filled channels and are appropriate for proprioception which is determined by the degree of curvature. In control perspective, novel control idea should be developed because the conventional control techniques may be inadequate to handle soft robots. Several innovative techniques and diverse materials & fabrication methods are described in this review article. In addition, a wide range of soft robots are characterized and analyzed based on the following sub-categories; actuation, sensing, structure, control and electronics, materials, fabrication and system, and applications.
Biological systems flexible materials smart structure soft robotics soft structure