The goal of this workshop is bring together researchers in sensor networks, robotics and material 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. Robotic materials build up on the fields of sensor networks, composites, and robotics and promise materials that can change their physical properties such as 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 airplane wings that self-diagnose and morph, to civil engineering structures that self-monitor and adapt to their users needs, equipment that camouflages, to multifunctional everyday objects ranging from clothing, to furniture and tableware.
Recent advances in manufacturing and computing have made such materials more and more feasible. Since the advent of the concept of “Smart Dust”, computation has been dramatically reduced in size, and researchers have comprehensively addressed issues related to large-scale distributed, networked sensing ranging from operating systems, to routing, and distributed signal processing. Lithography, laser processing and 3D printing have enabled simple manufacturing of complex multi-material structures that provide structure, sensing, and actuation capabilities for locomotion, camouflage , shape change, or folding. Finally, there now exist a large variety of smart polymers with almost arbitrary properties, that can provide robotic materials with structure, sensing, and actuation. Yet, those communities struggle to integrate their work: materials do not compute, and computers are only loosely coupled with the physical world. The reasons for this disconnect are many, ranging from lack of mutual understanding of opportunities that arise in the other disciplines to difficulties in articulating the fundamental challenges of system integration.
The format of the 2-day workshop is action-oriented and consists of brief presentations on selected component technologies for robotic materials, 20-min keynote presentations on selected natural systems that tightly integrate sensing, computation and actuation, as well as break-out sessions in which small teams work out challenges and goals of robotic materials research. Results from break-out sessions will be compiled in a final report by the organizers and selected participants and released into the public domain via this website.