Voice coils, or inductors more generally, can be used for the development of multi-functional actuators that allow for actuation, communication, and charging, among others. Inductors evoke steady magnetic fields at low frequencies (i.e. DC or f=0Hz) that can be used for actuation, and alternating electro-magnetic fields in form of radio waves that can be used for communication (i.e. f >= 30 MHz). This multi-functionality makes electro-magnetic actuators unique in comparison to other soft actuators (e.g. fluidically-driven soft actuators).

Magnetism research website.


A fundamentally different approach to embedding intelligence into materials is the use of fluidics. Fluidics has several interesting advantages (and disadvantages) over electronics. Advantages include resilience to electro-magnetism (e.g. ionizing radiation), extreme temperatures, and physical stress such as deformation. While this approach depicted an academic exercise at first (are we capable of building completely soft and non-electronic machines?), real-world applications are becoming viable.

► Fluidics research website.

Flexible circuits

Flexible and stretchable electronics are promising technologies for augmenting the capabilities of soft robotic systems. The fabrication of flexible and stretchable circuits and their integration with elastomer-based robotic systems allow for harnessing the advances in modern electronics and therewith data analysis including machine learning.


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