Sensing soft robots' shape with cameras: an investigation on kinematics-aware SLAM

Emanuele Riccardo Rosi, Maximilian Stölzle, Fabio Solari, C. Della Santina

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

1 Citation (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


The nature of continuum soft robots calls for novel perception solutions, which can provide information on the robot's shape while not substantially modifying their bodies' softness. One way to achieve this goal is to develop innovative and completely deformable sensors. However, these solutions tend to be less reliable than classic sensors for rigid robots. As an alternative, we consider here the use of monocular cameras. By admitting a small rigid component in our design, we can leverage well-established solutions from mobile robotics. We propose a shape sensing strategy that combines a SLAM algorithm with nonlinear optimization based on the robot's kinematic model. We prove the method's effectiveness in simulation and with experiments of a single-segment continuous soft robot with a camera mounted to the tip. We achieve mean relative translational errors below 9% simulations and experiments alike, and as low as 0.5% on average for some simulation conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 5th International Conference on Soft Robotics (RoboSoft 2022)
ISBN (Print)978-1-6654-0828-8
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event5th International Conference on Soft Robotics, RoboSoft 2022 - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Apr 20228 Apr 2022


Conference5th International Conference on Soft Robotics, RoboSoft 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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.


  • Simultaneous localization and mapping
  • Shape
  • Robot kinematics
  • Robot vision systems
  • Estimation
  • Kinematics
  • Soft robotics


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