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Della Santina, C., Bianchi, M., Grioli, G., Angelini, F., Catalano, M., Garabini, M., & Bicchi, A. (2017). Controlling Soft Robots. IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine.

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Soft robots (SRs) represent one of the most significant recent evolutions in robotics. Designed to embody safe and natural behaviors, they rely on compliant physical structures purposefully designed to embody desirable and sometimes variable impedance characteristics. This article discusses the problem of controlling SRs. We start by observing that most of the standard methods of robotic control-e.g., high-gain robust control, feedback linearization, backstepping, and active impedance control-effectively fight against or even completely cancel the physical dynamics of the system, replacing them with a desired model. This defeats the purpose of introducing physical compliance. After all, what is the point of building soft actuators if we then make them stiff by control?