ICRA 2023 Full Day Workshop

Soft Growing Robots: From Search-and-Rescue to Intraluminal Interventions

Monday 29th May 2023
ExCel Exhibition Centre, London, UK

Growing robots are inspired by the ability of vine plants to navigate via growth. They demonstrate unique capabilities such as tip extension, maneuvrability in narrow openings or complex environments, and the possibility of passing tools along a hollow central channel or via a functionalized tip. Example applications for these robots include medical robotics for minimally invasive surgery, search-and-rescue, archaeological inspection, burrowing, and also plant monitoring.

However, with the topic being relatively new, many challenges associated with their design, sensing, perception, modelling and control have been identified along the way. It has been frequently demonstrated that growing robots have limited steerability, complex control, non-trivial quasistatic and dynamic modelling, while they risk buckling and deforming as they extend to greater lengths. Their miniaturisation and fit-for-purpose design and manufacturing represent additional complexities for this class of robots. These challenges make growing robots a fascinating research topic but hinder their deployment in real-world applications. Inspiration to address them can be found in adjacent domains, such in industry for pipeline repair, and a commonly used approach called trenching.

In this workshop, we will bring together industrial and academic experts to discuss the challenges they have faced, the solutions they have created, and the remaining questions that must be addressed to enable real-world deployment of growing robots. Their seminars will cover design limitations as well as the modelling and control challenges. Additionally, the academic experts will discuss the requirements and features of their robots. By cross-referencing both the features and limitations, we aim to facilitate discussions that move the field forward and catalyse the development of new models, controllers and manufacturing approaches for soft growing robots. Furthermore, the in-depth seminars and discussions will give those who are new to the field an insight into the topic and inspire the next generation of students and early career researchers.

With this being at the forefront of our minds, we aim to bring together experts in the field to answer the following questions:

  • What are the manufacturing requirements for growing robots?

  • What are the challenges faced during the design, modelling and control of growing robots that hinder their deployment in real-world applications?

  • What open software and hardware solutions exist to support research in the domain?

  • What are the scopes for future research in the topic of growing robots?


The workshop comprises 20-minute seminars followed by 10-minute Q&As per speaker, covered over 4 sessions:

  • Concept & Bioinspiration

  • Sensing & Perception

  • Modeling & Control

  • Application & Manufacture


We will feature poster presentations during coffee and lunch breaks. 2-minute teasers will also be presented during the end of the workshop.


The workshop will conclude with an open discussion between the panelists and attendees to review the presented insights and discuss potential solutions.


Barbara Mazzolai- Italian Institute of Technology, Italy

Kaspar Althoefer- Queen Mary's University London, UK

Allison Okamura- Stanford University, USA

Jee-Hwan Ryu- Korea Advanced Institute of Technology, South Korea

Haithem El-Hussieny- Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology, Egypt

Ali Sadeghi- University of Twente, The Netherlands

Margaret Coad- University of Notre Dame, USA

Laura Blumenschein- Purdue Univ., USA

Evren Samur- Bogazici University, Turkey

S.M.Hadi Sadati- King's College London, UK

Tania Morimoto- University of California San Diego, USA

Christos Bergeles- King's College London, UK

Robert Katzschmann- ETH Zurich, Switzerland



The workshop poster call features three £100 awards, kindly supported in part by MathWorks, US.


The workshop poster call features three £100 awards, kindly supported in part by the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Science, King's College London, UK.

(NIHR) Cardiovascular MedTech Co-operative

The organizers of the workshop acknowledge support from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) through the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) MedTech Co-operative award for Cardiovascular Diseases to Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with King’s College London.


Christos Bergeles

Associate Professor, King's College London

Email: christos.bergeles@kcl.ac.uk

Tania Morimoto

Assistant Professor, University of California San Diego

Email: tkmorimoto@eng.ucsd.edu

S.M.Hadi Sadati

Research Fellow, King's College London

Email: smh_sadati@kcl.ac.uk

Zicong Wu

PhD Student, Robotics and Vision in Medicine (RViM) Lab, King's College London

Email: zicong.wu@kcl.ac.uk

Shamsa Al Harthy

Visiting Research Assistant, Robotics and Vision in Medicine (RViM) Lab, King's College London

Email: shamsa.al_harthy@kcl.ac.uk