Sensing Soft Robot Shape Using IMUs: An Experimental Investigation

Josie Hughes*, Francesco Stella, Cosimo Della Santina, Daniela Rus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
174 Downloads (Pure)


Shape estimation of soft robotic systems is challenging due to the range of deformations that can be achieved, and the limited availability of physically compatible sensors. We propose a method of reconstruction using Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs), which are mounted on segments of a deformable manipulator. This approach utilizes the piecewise constant curvature model in combination with the quaternion data from IMUs to allow for accuracy reconstruction and closed-loop control. A key strength of this approach is that it is hardware agnostic, and could be used on any soft structure to provide pose reconstruction and controllability. We explore this approach experimentally on a growing, extendable 3D printed continuum body structure, demonstrating that high accuracy reconstruction that can be achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExperimental Robotics
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 17th International Symposium (ISER 2020)
EditorsBruno Siciliano, Cecilia Laschi, Oussama Khatib
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-71151-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-71150-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventISER 2020: 17th International Symposium on Experimental Robotics
- , Malta
Duration: 9 Nov 202112 Nov 2021

Publication series

NameSpringer Proceedings in Advanced Robotics
ISSN (Print)2511-1256
ISSN (Electronic)2511-1264


ConferenceISER 2020: 17th International Symposium on Experimental Robotics

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Kinematic control
  • Shape estimation
  • Soft manipulation


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