Soft Robotics Lab.

Head Shinichi Hirai Professor, Dept. of Robotics
FoundedApril, 1996
Biwako-Kusatsu Campus (BKC) | visit
Biwako-Kusatsu Campus (BKC) | map

Soft Robotics Laboratory is investigating robots with novel functions brought by soft materials and its related technologies including soft sensors and actuators.

Current main research topics (Details can be seen here)
aerial robots
Aerial Robots
slip sensing sensor
Slip Sensing Sensor
mechanical modeling of foot
Mechanical Modeling of Foot
soft-fingered manipulation
Soft-fingered Manipulation
binding hand
Binding Hand
tensegrity robots
Tensegrity Robots
micro pneumatic valve
Micro Pneumatic Valve
underwater vision
Underwater Vision


Pamphlet for Introduction (2014)
Introducing Soft Robot - Ritsumeikan University in EXPO21XX - AUTOMATION 21XX

present previous short stay
2017/6/15 Received AP Award Grand Prix at International Food Machinery and Technology Exhibition.
2017/4/30 Asahi Shimbun introdiced our soft robotics research.
2017/4/20 Robotics Seminar by Dr. Yang, Boo-Ho (CEO, Soft Servo Systems) Soft Motion Technology and EtherCAT Network
2017/4/3 Dr. Wang's proposal for Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research "Establishment of basic design principle of pneumatically driven soft actuator" was accepted.
2017/3/27 Alumni Association Digital News (Issue 1) Introduction of Hirai Lab.
2017/3/14 Introduced a 3D printer Objet 350 Connex 3 (Stratasys Ltd.), which can apply three different materials and print a soft part using rubber-like material.
2017/3/9 Robotics Meetup at Colombo, Sri Lanka, presenting "What is Soft Robotics?" (news)
2017/2/15 Robotics Seminar A Novel Soft Robotic Table for Manipulation of Delicate Objects Inspired by Caterpillar Locomotion Chong Deng (Univ. Auckland) (photos)
2017/2/9 Javier Molina received Best Presentation Award at ICMRE2017.
2017/2/8-3/1 Chong Deng from University of Auckland stayed in Hirai lab.
2016/12/14 Dr. Ho was nominated to Finalist of Best Conference Paper Awardat in SII 2016.
2016/11/5 Celebrating 20 years of Department of Robotics
2016/10/27-28 Presented "Soft Robotics for Object Manipulation" at RIKEN CEMS Topical Meeting on Soft Robotics
2016/10/18-19 Lecture "What is Robotics" for Keisho Junior High School
2016/9/16 Lecture on "Soft Robotic Hands for Soft Object Handling" at RSJ Robotics Seminar No.101 Soft Robots, Soft Devices: Introduction to Soft Robotics
2016/8/16, 19 Making 'Picker Drone' in laboratory experience (report)
photo by Mori video by Sako
2016/6/9 Received FOOMA Academic Plaza Award at International Food Machinery and Technology Exhibition.
2016/4/29-30 Introducing a robotic hand for aerial robots at Nikoniko Chokaigi 2016
Time-shift broadcast 1st day 2nd day
2016/4/9-10 OB/OG party cerebrating 20th anniversary of Hirai lab. at Biwako Grand Hotel
(photo by Dr. Wang) (photo by Ogawa) (with the gift)
2016/1/11-2/26 Jarred Fastier-Wooller from Griffith University stayed in Hirai lab.
2015/12/21 Presenting "Binding Hands for Food Material Handling" at Fishery Machine Seminar organized by Industrial Research Institute, Hokkaido Research Organization
2015/12/18 Demonstrating micro pneumatic valves at Robotics Technology Seminar in Grand Front Osaka
2015/12/2-5 Demonstrating binding hands and micro pneumatic valves at International Robot Exhibition
2015/11/27 Presenting "Binding Hands for Food Material Handling" at Press Seminar in Tokyo Campus, Ritsumeikan University
2015/10/2 Damith attended "Three Minute Thesis" Competition Semi-final held at The University of Queensland. (news)
2015/9/14 Hirai's office moved to the 7th floor of EastWing.
2015/8/26-27 Experiment rooms moved to the 7th floor of EastWing.
2015/6/25 Dr. Wang was nominated to Finalist for Best Conference Paper Awardat in RCAR 2015 held at Changsha, China.
2015/6/26 Damith won 3 Minute Thesis Presentation Competition held at Ritsumeikan University by his talk on "Why not let robots feel the softness of a flower petal". He will attend the Asia Level Competition held in end of July.
2015/6/9 visit to SIA (news)
2015/5/21 Dr. Wang won "favorite" poster award at SIMULIA Community Conference at Berlin. (photos)
2015/4/1 Proposal for Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research "Dynamics and Tribology of Soft Tissues in Tactile Perception" was accepted.
2015/4/1 Proposal to Program for Promotion of International Research "Application of Soft Tactile Sensors to Medical Robotics" was accepted. This program will promote collaborative research with King's College, London.
2014/11/17 Griffith University – Ritsumeikan University Joint Symposium on Field Robotics
2014/11/15 Presented "Soft Robotics" at the final seminar of Muroran Institute of Technology Robot Arena
2014/10/1-11/25 Damith stayed King's College London (UK) for collaborative research.
2014/7/31 Presented "Introducing Soft Materials into Robotics" in CORE seminar at King's College London
2014/7/11 Presented "Locomotion of Tensegrity Robots" at Sustainable Flexible Automation Technical Committee of Institute of Systems, Control and Information Engineers
2014/7/7 Seminar presented by Dr. Wu, President of DJI Japan, to introduce current technology and future direction of DJI multi-copters (photos)
2014/6/12 Received FOOMA Academic Plaza Award at International Food Machinery and Technology Exhibition. (pick up) (photos)
2014/6/10-13 Presented "Handling of Food Materials by Lightweight Robot System" at Academic Plaza of FOOMA 2014
2014/3/10 Presented "Fabric Tactile Sensor" at e-Textile Technical Committee in Textile Machinery Society Japan
2013/7/31 Presented "Soft Robotics" in Advanced Mechano-Informatics Seminar at the University of Tokyo
2013/6/11-14 Presented "Handling of Rheological Food Materials by Robotic Systems" at Academic Plaza of FOOMA 2013
2013/5/30 Revised laboratory names as Soft Robotics Laboratory since current research topics in the laboratory include
  • Robot systems using soft materials (tensegrity robots or soft-fingered hands)
  • Robot systems handling soft objects (food or cables)
  • Soft sensors and actuators
  • Mechanical modeling of soft biological bodies (eyes, fingertips, foot, liver)
This terminology Soft Robotics is being popular in robotics community and a new journal Soft Robotics has started.
2013/5/23 Presented "Manipulation and Modeling of Belt Objects" at 2013 Fund Ceremony of Tateisi Science and Technology Foundation
2013/4/1 Proposal for Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research "Dynamics in Rolling and Jumping of Tensegrity Structures" was accepted.
2013/3/1 Dr. Wang came back from ETH, Switzerland.
2012/10/16-17 MPR 2012 at Hakata (photos)
2012/10/6-15 IROS2012 at Vilamoura and visit to ETH (photos)
2012/9/28 Proposal to R-GIRO Program on e-Health was accepted.
2012/9/17-20 RSJ 2012 at Sapporo (photos)
2012/9/6 BBQ at Echi River (photos)
2012/9/1 Dr. Wang started half-year research at ETH, Switzerland.
2012/5/28-29 RoboMec2012 at Hamamatsu (photos)
2012/5/10-19 ICRA 2012 at St Paul (photos)
2012/3/26 Tensegrity robots were intoduced ini a TV program Morning Bird!.
2012/1/12 OB/OG seminar at Department of Robotics (photos)
2011/12/15 Numerical Methods for Mechanical Systems (ISBN 978-4-339-06094-2), 2nd print, was published by Corona Publishing Co., Ltd.
2011/12/10 Dr. Xubing Zhang was nominated to Finalist of T. J. Tarn Best Paper in Robotics by TPS-SURF-SAC Matching Approach of Feature Point Applied to Deformation Measurement of Nonrigid Tissues from MR Images.
2011/11/21-25 International Seminar on Ensuring Environmental Sustainablility at Jakarta (photos)
2011/6/27-30 RSS 2011 at USC (photos)
2011/5/9-13 ICRA2011 at Shanghai, China (photos)
2011/4/7 Proposal for Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research "Tribology of Soft Tissues" was accepted.
2011/4/1 Proposal for Tateisi Science and Technology Foundation "Manipulation of Belt Objects" was accepted.
2011/4/1 Dr. Wang became a Research Associate of the Department of Robotics.
2011/4/1 Mr. Ho was selected as a Research Fellowship for Young Scientists (DC2) of JSPS.
2011/3/6-11 Visited universities in Vietnam (Hanoi Institute of Technology, University of Science, and Ho Chi Ming City University of Technology) (photos)
2011/1/24 Tensegrity robots appear in a magazine "Aera". (RS Web)
2010/12/14-17 ROBIO2010 at Tianjin, China (photos)
2010/12/4-8 Visited Wuhan Textile University with Dr. Zhang (photos)
2010/11/19-12/27 Mr. Ho stayed at Professor Kao's laboratory in State Univ. of New York at Stony Brook for collaborative research.
2010/10/4 Experienced mixed reality in the festival for 1300 years of capital transfer to Nara (photos)
2010/9/21 Hirai Lab. was introduced in a TV program Love ☆ Lab. (News 610, NHK Kyoto).
2010/8/28 Open Campus (photos)
2010/8/1-7 Visit to universities in Indonesia with Dr. Sumadi (photos)
2010/7/6-9 IEEE/ASME AIM 2010 at Montreal, Canada (photos)
2010/6/17 Introducing Soft Robot - Ritsumeikan University in EXPO21XX - AUTOMATION 21XX
2010/5/26 Biomimetic Soft Morphing Workshop at Seoul National University (photos)
2010/5/2-9 ICRA2010 at Anchorage, Alaska, U.S.A. (photos)
2010/3/22 Farewell party (photos)
2010/3/8-19 Prof. Ma, Hirai, Prof. Shimonomura, and Dr. Ozawa visited universities in China. (Huanzhong Univ. of Science and Technology, Wuhan Univ., Tianjin Univ., Hebei Univ. of Tech., Harbin Inst. of Tech., Shenyang Inst. Automation, and Northeastern Univ.) (photos)
2010/1/19 Robotics Seminar "Industrial Robots - Towards New Development", Mr. Norio Kodaira (Chief Technology Officer, Mitsubishi Electric Cooperation) (photos)
2010/1/6 Dr. Xubing Zhang joined the laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow.
2009/12/27 The 2nd OB/OG Party at Room Senzai, Hotel Granvia Kyoto (photos)
2009/12/21 Yujiro Yamazaki was nominated to Finalist of 2009 IEEE Int. Conf. on Robotics and Biomimetics Best Paper in Biomimetics by Two-Phased Force and Coordinates Controller for a Pair of 2-DOF Soft Fingers.
2009/11/20 Experience on Japanese sweet making at Oimatsu. (photos)
2009/10/7 Keynote speech on "Simulation of Deformation in Robotics" at Asia Simulation Conference 2009. (PDF)
2009/10/4-5 The Fiffh Joint Workshop on Machine Perception and Robotics
MPR2009, October 4-5, 2009, Kyoto, Japan (photos)
2009/9/7 International Robotics Seminar Handling and Manipulating Very Flexible Sheets by Robots
Professor Nikos A. Aspragathos (University of Patras, Greece)
2009/8/1 Demonstration of unconstrained poppet valves and tensegrity robots in Open Campus. (photos)
2009/5/12 International Robotics Seminar Robot Assembly: From Vibratory Manipulation to Self-Organization
Professor Kevin Lynch (Northwestern University) (photos)
2009/3/21-29 Professor Kawamura and Hirai visited universities in Australia (CSIRO at Brisbane, Monash University, The University of Sydney). (photos)
2009/1/1 Mechanics and Control of Soft-fingered Manipulation (ISBN 978-1-84800-980-6) was published by Springer-Verlag London Limited.
2008/12/27 The 1st OB/OG Party (photos)
2008/12/20 Seminar at Hanoi Institute of Technology (HIT). Introduction of Dept. Robotics
2008/12/17-20 ICARCV2008, December 17-20, Hanoi, Vietnam (photos)
2008/12/6 Mr. Matsuyama received SICE 2007 SI Division Young Researcher Encouragement Award for his paper Mechanics of Jumping via Body Deformation. (photos)
2008/11/6-7 The Fourth Joint Workshop on Machine Perception and Robotics
MPR2008, November 6-7, 2008, Beijing, China (photos)
2008/10/10 SICE published Special Issue on System Integration in Marine Engineering (Vol.47, Oct, 2008), two years after Hirai's first proposal.
2008/9/22-26 IROS2008 at Nice France (photos)
2008/9/10 Dr. Inoue and Hirai received the 2008 RSJ Best Paper Award for their paper Experimental Investigation of Mechanics in Soft-fingered Grasping and Manipulation. (photos)
2008/9/10 Dr. Inoue received the 2008 Young Investigation Excellence Award for his paper A New Object Orientation Control Method Generating Desired Joint Angles.
2008/9/8 Dr. Inoue received Best Presentation Award at the 2008 JSPE Intelligent Mechatronics Workshop.
2008/8/28 Numerical Methods for Mechanical Systems (ISBN 978-4-339-06094-2) was published by Corona Publishing Co., Ltd.
2008/7/18 Demonstration Day for high school students. (photos)
2008/6/25-27 RSS2008 at Zurich, Switzerland (photos)
2008/6/23 Visited EPFL and had two seminars.
How Softness Contributes to Human Dexterity organized by Professor Bleuler
Jumping via Deformation organized by Professor Floreano (photos)
2008/5/27-30 Presentation at FOOMA JAPAN 2008 Academic Plaza. (HP)
2008/4/14 Proposal for Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research "Soft Tissue Mechanics in Human Dexterity via Internal Sensing" was accepted. (HP)
2008/4/14 Joined collaborative research with Dainippon Screen Co.,Ltd. on underwater robots. (Press)
2008/4/1 Dr. Shibata moved to Kawamura Laboratory as an Assistant Professor.
2008/3/21 Fawewell party (photos)
2007/12/21 Dr. Inoue and Hirai received SICE 2007 SI Division Research Encouragement Award.
2007/11/16-17 The Third Joint Workshop on Machine Perception and Robotics(MPR2007), Kusatsu, Japan
2007/11/2 Workshop on Modeling, Identification, and Control of Deformable Soft Objects
in conjunction with IROS 2007, San Diego, U.S.A.
2007/9/26 Model-based Control for Cognition in Technical Systems
Prof. Dr. Olaf Stursberg (Technical University of Munich)
2007/9/19 Optimal Movement Generation
Professor Frank Chongwoo Park (Seoul National University)
2007/8/22 Dr. Shibata's proposal "Investigation of Human Dexterity Generated by Loose Joints via Soft Elements"was accepted for a Grant in Aid for Scientific Research (start-up).
2007/7/25 Prof. Hirai was introduced in a book Messages from Robotics Researchers, organized by Robotics Society of Japan.
2007/7/9 Dr. Shibata and Prof. Hirai's proposal Expansion and Placement of Fabrics using Visual Sensing was accepted by Japan Science and Technology Agancy (JST). (HP)
2007/4/1 Dr. Inoue moved to Okayama Prefecural University.
2007/4/1 Dr. Shibata joined the faculty of mechanical systems as an experiment assistant.
2007/3/15 Dr. Inoue and Prof. Hirai received the Best Paper Award in the 12th Robotics Symposia for their paper Dynamics in Object Manipulation by a Pair of Spft Fingertips. (HP)
2007/1/24 Research Opportunities in Robotics
Professor Tzyh Jong Tarn (Washington University)
2007/1/12 Workshop on Bridge between Biology and Robotics
Professor Mascaro (Univ. Utah) and Professor Sitti (CMU) (photos)
2006/12/16 Mechanical Energy Analysis of Jumping by Body Deformation of Soft Circular Robot received SICE SI2006 Presentation Award.
2006/12/11 Workshop on Exploration of Intelligence between Machines and Nature
Professor Slotine (MIT), Professor Osuka (Kobe Univ.), and Professor Mochiyama (NITECH) (photos)
2006/12/6-8 Exhibition of CMOS+FPGA Vision at 2006 International Technical Exhibition on Image Technology and Equipment (Pacifico Yokohama) with Image Technology Laboratory Corp. and Marubeni Solutions Corp.
2006/12/4 COE Lecture on How to Find Research Issues.
2006/11/30-12/2 Exhibition of Unconstrained Poppet Valves at International Next Generation Robot Fair (INTEX Osaka). (Nikkan Kougyo Shimbun 2006/11/21) (photo in article) (photos)
2006/7/1 Hirai started to serve as an Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Robotics.
2006/5/17 Takahiro Inoue was nominated to Finalist of 2006 IEEE Int. Conf. Robotics and Automation Best Manipulation Paper Award by Study on Hemispherical Soft-Fingered Handling for Fine Manipulation by Minimum D.O.F. Robotic Hand.
2006/5/17 Kazuhiro Shimizu was nominated to Finalist of 2006 IEEE Int. Conf. Robotics and Automation Best Vision Paper Award by CMOS+FPGA Vision System for Visual Feedback of Mechanical Systems.
2006/5/15-19 ICRA2006 at Orlando, U.S.A. (photos)
2006/4/1 Dr. Inoue was employed as a JSPS COE Researcher.
2006/4/1 Dr. Mitani moved to Sapporo City University.
2006/3/22 Mr. Uehara received JSME Miura Award.
2005/12/22 Takahiro Inoue received IEEE Kansai Chapter Student Encouragement Award.
2005/12/6 ICMT2005 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) Banquet (photos)
2005/11/30 Handling Engineering (ISBN 978-4-339-04525-3) was published by Corona Publishing Co., Ltd.
2005/7/26-8/7 Demonstration on Crawling and Jumping Soft Robot KOHARO at the Robot Station, Expo 2005 Aichi Japan. (HP)
2005/6/9-19 Demonstration on Crawling and Jumping Soft Robot KOHARO at Prototype Robot Exhibition, Expo 2005 Aichi Japan. (photo diary) (demonstration)
2005/6/10 ROBOCON Magazine No.40 introduced Hirai Lab.
2005/4/22 Proposal for Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research "Reality-based Modeling of Deformable Soft Objects via Internal Sensing" was accepted. (HP)
2005/4/20 Takahiro Inoue was nominated to Finalist of 2005 IEEE Int. Conf. Robotics and Automation Best Manipulation Paper Award by Quasi-Static Manipulation with Hemispherical Soft Fingertip via Two Rotational Fingers.
2004/12/7 Lecture on How Softness Contributes to Dexterity in Object Manipulation at the startup meeting of soft object handling research group, Kagawa University.
2004/10/29 Farewell Party for Professor Vaz (photos)
2004/10/6 WTEC International Assessment of R&D in Robotics from U.S. visited Dept. Robotics, Ritsumeikan University. (PDF)
2004/7/28 "Crawling and Jumping of a Deformable Robot" was introduced in Mainichi Shimbun 2004/7/28 "Science TODAT".
2004/7/4 Robotic wheels that just keep rolling in New Scientists.
2004/6/19 Yuuta Sugiyama was offered the IFRR Student Fellowship to present his article "Crawling and Jumping of a Deformable Robot" in ISER2004 at Singapore.
2004/6/17 "Crawling and Jumping of a Deformable Robot" was introduced in Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun 2004/6/17.
2004/6/3 Project "Crawling and Jumping by a Deformable Soft Robot" was accepted to the NEDO 21st Century Robot Challenge Program.
2004/4/3 Visit to Professor Vaz's house and Indian Restaurant (photos)
2004/3/11-12 ISERP Symposium on Intelligent Control of Multi-fingered Hand Based on Sensory-Motor Coordination
2004/3/2-3 HUT-RITS Joint Symposium on Sensory-Motor Coordination in Robotic Manipulation
2004/1/12-13 Ski Trip (photos)
2003/6/6 First Symposium on "Micro Nanoscience Integrated Systems"
2003/4/10 Project on soft-fingered manipulation was introduced in a Japanese book Coming Astro Boy (ISBN4-410-13828-6).
2003/1/16-17 Ski Trip (photos)
2002/6/7 Proposal for Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research Visual and Haptic Rendering for Virtual Rheological Objects was accepted.
2001/7/20-29 Advanced Science Instutute 2001 (photos)
2001/7/4 Introduced in Yomiuri Shimbun 2001/7/4 "Scientist in new generation".
2001/5/24 Shinichi Tokumoto was nominated to Finalist of 2001 IEEE Int. Conf. Robotics and Automation Kayamori Best Paper Award by Vision-based Automatic Forming of Rheological Objects Using Deformation Transition Graphs.