First draft of the final project: A real-time 3D tracking and characterization system for continuum Soft Robots

Why this project

I have a lot of interest in soft robots, i.e. robots made of compliant materials, typically silicone. Those robots are typically actuated using a pressurized fluid that deforms the soft material and generate a movement.

I study these soft robots for endoscopy and minimally invasive surgery. Thin, long, and actuated tube (catheters) can be used as navigation tools via the natural pathways, to reach remote locations of the body.

Endoscopy Steerable soft catheter could allow new opportunities in endoscopy

Actuator Example of a soft robot I made able to bend in one direction

These soft actuated tubes must be thin and able of complexe movements, as tentacles. In order to assess the potential of the soft robots, they must be fully characterized, using typically the angles and curvature radius generated.

First draft of the project

Key features of the setup

First sketch

FirstSketch First sketch of the tracking system

BlockDiagram Block diagram of the final project

The 3D trackig system must still be defined. The first idea is to use a single camera with one mirror to capture the actuator from two angles. It should then be possible to reconstruct the 3D position. A real-time system would be advantageous but is not mandatory.

The modularity is an important feauture of the project (size of the structure, possibility to change sensors, …)

Useful skills and sessions

This project will use a lot of the skills developped during the various lessons of the fab academy:


I have already identified several resources that will be useful during the project.

My vision for this project

Soft and continuum robots are gaining interest for many application, for biomedical application as wearables or surgery devices, but also for other applications as grippers or locomotion. Such a low-cost and well resourced modular tracking platform could be interesting for the characterization of many designs. As an example, this project could be integrated in the complete Soft Robotics Toolkit.