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Soft Robotics and Healthcare

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Recent developments in soft robotics have opened up unprecedented opportunities to transform healthcare sector in a number of areas including, but not limited to remote physical examination, minimally invasive surgery, rehabilitation, and prosthetics. Soft robots offer unique technical capabilities that rigid ...

Recent developments in soft robotics have opened up unprecedented opportunities to transform healthcare sector in a number of areas including, but not limited to remote physical examination, minimally invasive surgery, rehabilitation, and prosthetics. Soft robots offer unique technical capabilities that rigid robots do not offer, such as the range of stiffness they can achieve, ability to deform and re-configure to suit constrained environments, ability to exhibit greater stability in the presence of disturbances, and greater potential to mimic how action and perception are coupled in biological counterparts. Due to these reasons, soft robots can be potentially used as manipulators that can reach to surgical sites hidden behind organs, probes that can examine soft tissue during minimally invasive surgery, fingers for remote physical examination, wearable smart devices for recovery support, and as human body simulators that can present various medical conditions to trainees. However, soft robots face challenges in a number of aspects such as the range of forces they can exert on an object, precision of position and force control, hysteresis, repeatability, and difficulty to develop analytical models. This Research Topic on soft robots for healthcare applications encourages potential papers that show advancements that overcome these shortcomings while adding new capabilities that could potentially improve the state of the art of using robots in healthcare. We particularly encourage papers that show experimental evidence backed by numerical modelling.


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