Robot Design and Customization: Opportunities at the Intersection of Computation and Digital Fabrication

2019 International Conference on Robotics and Automation
Full-day Workshop (Rm 518b)
Thursday, May 23, 2019
Montreal, Canada

Overview | Invited Speakers | Call for Participation | Schedule | Accepted Abstracts & Poster Instructions | Contact

New Special Issue Call for Papers! (updated: 7/2/2019)

We are currently soliciting papers for a Robotica special issue on Robot Design and Customization for original work related to the topics discussed at this workshop. For more details, refer to the call for papers.

Submission deadline: January 15, 2019 (extended from Dec. 15)
Target publication: June 2020

Thanks to all the presenters and participants for a great day of discussion and new ideas!


New advances in digital fabrication have increased our ability to create complex geometric structures with an ever-expanding range of materials (rigid, compliant, conductive, etc.) and are increasingly accessible to non-experts. At the same time, computational design tools offer a tremendous opportunity to facilitate robot design by encoding structural, control, or fabrication constraints during the design cycle, enabling roboticists to navigate the vast design spaces enabled by digital fabrication. The combination of these two promises new robot forms and capabilities, further expanding the applications and performance of future robots.

The goal of this workshop is to bring together the robotics, rapid fabrication, and computational design communities to discuss the challenges and opportunities in custom robot design. The workshop is centered around two major questions:

  1. How can computational approaches enhance workflow and facilitate the design and rapid prototyping of robots?
  2. How can new materials and manufacturing approaches lead to uniform processes for fabricating robots on-demand?

Invited Speakers

Call for Participation

We invite participants to submit 1-2 page abstracts on visionary ideas or recent results in robot design and customization. Accepted abstracts will be featured in spotlight presentations (5 min. poster-preview vignettes), followed by an interactive poster session. We particularly welcome live or hands-on demos in conjunction with the poster session. Please inform the organizers ASAP if you require a table for a physical demo.

Submitted abstracts should use the IEEE two-column conference format available on their website and be sent as an email attachment to with the subject line “Abstract submission: 2019 Workshop on Robot Design and Customization.”

Participants will also have the opportunity to contribute to a special issue in Robotica related to the topics of this workshop.

Topics of interest include:

  • Programmable fabrication:
    • Novel rapid fabrication methods for intelligent machines
    • Personalized mechanisms and robotics
    • Soft and compliant machines
  • Computational design:
    • Characterization, modeling, and design of printable structures
    • Hardware/software co-design and optimization
    • Morphological intelligence
  • End-to-end systems for robot design and fabrication:
    • Interactive robot design systems
    • Programmable matter
    • Fabrication-aware design

Important Dates
Abstract submission deadline: April 15, 2019
Abstract notification: April 22, 2019
Final abstract submission: May 6, 2019


Time Program Item
8:30 am – 8:35 am Welcoming Remarks
8:35 am – 9:05 am Jerry Qi | Multimaterial and Hybrid 3D Printing of Soft Robotic Applications
9:05 am – 9:35 am Jeffrey Lipton | Symmetry as a Tool for Robot Design
9:35 am – 10:05 am Poster Highlights (Group 1)
10:05 am – 10:30 am Break
10:30 am – 11:00 am Charlie Wang | Deformation of 3D Printed Soft Robots: Sensing, Simulation and Planning
11:00 am – 11:30 am Michael Dickey | Liquid Metals for Soft Robots
11:30 am – 12:30 am Posters and Demos
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Lunch
1:30 pm – 2:00 pm Ankur Mehta | What can we do for $1? (… and why it matters)
2:00 pm – 2:30 pm Carmel Majidi | Modeling Soft Robots with a Physics Engine based on Discrete Differential Geometry
2:30 pm – 3:00 pm Bernhard Thomaszewski | Flexible Material and Mechanism Design
3:00 pm – 3:30pm Break
3:30 pm – 4:00 pm James Weaver | High Resolution Multi-Material Additive Manufacturing: 3D Fabrication of Biologically Inspired Structures
4:00 pm – 4:30 pm Poster Highlights (Group 2)
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm Posters and Demos
5:30 pm Adjourn

Accepted Abstracts

Accepted abstracts can be downloaded here. Password will be provided to workshop participants.

  • Group 1:

    • Ethan Schumann, Nils Smit-Anseeuw, Petr Zaytsev, Rodney Gleason, K Alex Shorter, C David Remy. “Effects of foot stiffness and damping on walking robot performance”
    • Ella Moore, James McCann. “A modular mold for embedded tendon and stiffening placement in foam robots”
    • Lillian Chin. “Design and fabrication of dual-flipping mechanisms”
    • Sonia Roberts, Daniel E Koditschek. “Mechanical and virtual compliance for robot locomotion in a compliant world”
    • Steven Ceron, Nialah Wilson, Logan Horowitz, Kirsten Petersen. “Design and control of the DONUts: A scalable self-reconfigurable modular robot with compliant modules”
  • Group 2:
    • Thais Campos, Jeevana Priya Inala, Armando Solar-Lezama, Hadas Kress-Gazit. “Task-based design of ad-hoc modular manipulators”
    • Antoine Pfeil, Laurent Barbé, François Geiskopf, Thibault Gayral, Lennart Rubbert, Pierre Renaud. “Design tools for printed robots: Experience and ongoing work using multi-material additive manufacturing”
    • Andrew Spielberg. “Simulation, co-design, and sensing for soft robots”
    • Thomas M Roehr, Daniel Harnack, Oscar Lima, Hendrik Wöhrle, Frank Kirchner. “Introducing Q-Rock: Towards the automated self-exploration and qualification of robot behaviors”

Poster/Presentation Instructions

Our room will be equipped with a projector (16:9 format) with HDMI connection and podium microphone. Speakers may use their own laptops or bring their presentation on a USB flash drive. Please bring an adapter if you need a different connector type.

We will have poster boards that can accommodate A0 (841mm x 1189mm) poster sizes. Mounting putty or velcro will be provided. For more details about the poster format, see

Workshop Organizers

  • Cynthia Sung, University of Pennsylvania
  • Stelian Coros, ETH Zürich
  • Robert MacCurdy, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Mark Yim, University of Pennsylvania

Questions can be directed to one of the workshop organizers.