Tuesday 12pm, 15 November 2016

D k 27

Moving beyond metal, the strength of soft machines

Kevin Albert

CEO - Pneubotics


Because they are easiest to understand and model, machines have until recently been almost exclusively constructed from stiff and rigid parts. We believe that a confluence of factors now makes it possible to shed this restriction and build machines that actively exploit the properties of soft materials. Such mechanisms promise to be dramatically cheaper, lighter, and more energy-efficient in construction and operation. They may therefore be better suited to tasks now performed by traditionally stiff machines, as well as enabling the automation of, or assistance with, tasks that were previously intractable. One of the attributes that is not frequently talked about is the strength of soft machines but, as we will explore, this is one of the key benefits of going soft. We will share our experience in building a new breed of robot that is both strong and gentle.


Kevin has spent his career teaching robots to interact with the world around them. Mr. Albert has 10 years of experience in the control of compliant biomimetic robotics including fundamental contributions to Boston Dynamics’ seminal works, Big Dog and LS3. As part of the controls team at Boston Dynamics he developed walking and jogging algorithms for their legged robots that enable them to reliably traverse complex terrain without vision. After leaving Boston Dynamics, Kevin started the robotics research group at Otherlab, focusing on building entirely soft bodied robots that are inherently safe to interact with. He has run numerous robotics research programs and is currently the CEO and Co-Founder of Pneubotics, a spin-off of Otherlab dedicated to creating robots that can work alongside humans in any environment.