We are pleased to report that two assistant professors within the 4TU Soft Robotics consortium have been awarded Vidi grants from the NWO: Dr. Guillermo Amador from the Experimental Zoology group at Wageningen University & Research and Dr. Michaël Wiertlewski from the Cognitive Robotics group at Delft University of Technology. They will each receive a sum of €800,000 to set up research groups to investigate gripping in biology and soft robotics. The two projects are briefly described below:
The suction cups of the cuttlefish revealed (Dr. Guillermo Amador)
In less time than the blink of an eye, a cuttlefish sticks to its prey using soft, muscular tentacles lined with many small suction cups. By investigating how these animals attach quickly and reversibly to various objects and surfaces, researchers will learn how to develop better synthetic grippers for applications in soft robotics and agriculture, as well as contribute to understanding their evolution.
Robots with a gentle touch (Dr. Michaël Wiertlewski)
Robots have improved working conditions by handling dirty, dangerous, or dull tasks present in many industry sectors; however tiring manual labor is still necessary in sectors such as agriculture, recycling, or care, where a soft touch is required to grasp and handle delicate objects. To be skillful, robots need to perceive the texture, shape, and softness of the object in hand and to detect when it can potentially slip, via their sense of touch. Using machine learning and new tactile sensors, I will endow new dexterous robots with the sense of touch inspired by the remarkable human tactile perception.