The International Research Training Group (IRTG) "Soft Tissue Robotics" aims to develop new simulation technologies and sensors in order to assist the development of new control strategies and concepts for robotic devices interacting with soft tissues. With this IRTG, we aim to significantly improve our understanding of next-generation robotic devices through training a new generation of PhD students in an international and interdisciplinary environment in fields like simulation technology, computational modelling, sensing, robotics, and control methods. Graduates from this proposed IRTG will be highly valuable for their ability to contribute to the socio-economic goals of both Germany and New Zealand.

Universities and Institutes

The IRTG Soft Tissue Robotics is a collaboration between the Univeristy of Stuttgart and the University of Auckland and involves 13 institutes, 21 principle investigators, 4 postdoctoral and 29 doctoral researchers.

2018 IRTG Summer School @ the University of Stuttgart, Germany.

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The field of Soft Tissue Robotics in its full depth poses many interconnected research challenges requiring highly innovative approaches and enables novel robot-driven applications, for example, industrial production and logistics scenarios as in the automotive industry, in industrial food production such as meat cutting and fruit picking, or in public health scenarios involving parts of the musculoskeletal system such as rehabilitation robotics. Highly skilled people in basic as well as application science are rare in this field. Hence, the focus of this IRTG is to transform excellent master’s graduates into experts capable of performing independent research in a highly interdisciplinary research environment, that is, being capable of developing novel methodological approaches for applications in which rigid robots interact with soft tissue/(highly) deformable material.

Core Idea of Soft Tissue Robotics Research Programme.

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Qualification Program

One of the key challenges in the field of Soft Tissue Robotics is the lack of experts that are capable of efficiently work in interdisciplinary teams towards innovative solutions for challenging topics. The aim of our IRTG’s qualification programme is to train excellent students to become experts in their field while exposing them to the challenges of their colleagues. For example, experts in Simulation Technology are able to understand a mechatronic engineer’s challenges in developing and implementing new methodologies and technologies (e. g. controlling robots interacting with highly deformable objects) and vice versa. We in the IRTG believe that the key to an effective and innovative environment is interdisciplinary training, direct communication skills, and efficient team work. Our IRTG’s qualification programme was designed and implemented with this challenge in mind.

2019 IRTG Summer School @ the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

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Impressions and Highlights

Selected highlights of the IRTG Soft Tissue Robotics, from student impressions to public relations.

Prof. MacDonald (yellow jacket) observing an autonomous kiwifruit picking robot.

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Spokesperson Stuttgart: Prof. Oliver Röhrle, Prof. Alexander Verl
Spokesperson Auckland: Prof. Peter Xu, Prof. Leo Cheng

This project is funded through the


This picture showsJoanna Grabowski

Joanna Grabowski

Coordinator GRK 2198 (in Elternzeit)

This picture showsOliver Röhrle

Oliver Röhrle

PI and Spokesperson GRK 2198

[Photo: Universität Stuttgart]

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