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Design and Manufacturing with Soft Systems


We are currently developing soft machine concepts and routes for fabricating them. These machines will be composed of elastomers, colloidal gels, and other materials with non-linear mechanical properties and that deform in stress regimes less than those of solid metals and ceramics - opening up a new arena of human/machine interaction.

In another area, we are interested in creating new forms of Solid Free Form (SFF) fabricators, sometimes called 3D printers. By using new materials and processing techniques, we  believe we can improve the speed, dimensionality, resolution, and material processing abilities of SFF machines.

Additionally, we are interested in studying the transport of discrete media (e.g., granular systems).

The framework we typically use to approach our problems is an iterative process of material & mechanical design feeding into a manufacturing step, then refining our technique into a polished result. We work well with all types of collaborators and always entertain new and exciting ideas.

We are currently seeking undergraduate and MEng students!


Contact Professor Shepherd:  RFS247@CORNELL.EDU

Soft Actuators


New classes of soft actuators, based on new materials and mechanical designs will permit lifelike motions in soft machines. By taking advantage of new materials, we can make actuators thinner, lighter, and tougher.

Click here for prior publications and videos of silicone based soft actuators and soft robots.

3D Fabrication


By coupling developments in material and mechanical science, we can bring transformative changes to 3D fabricators (e.g., step changes in print speeds and material possibilities).

Please click here for prior publications and media on 3D printing.

Granular Media Engineering


Engineering with granular media, and manipulating its transport will open up new dimensions in design.

Please click here for our prior publications and media in custom synthesized granules and the study of their packing.


See a writeup in on our work with Harvard to develop an untethered soft robot. Full article available on Soft Robotics early view.

Cool development in robotics from the Hosoi lab at MIT: Variable stiffness foams!

Bryan Peele and Ben MacMurray passed their Quals!

Chris Larson passes his Qualifying Exam! Congratulations

Professor Shepherd to receive University of Illinois, Material Science & Engineering Young Alumni Award

Professor Shepherd featured in SPIE Professional Magazine in Biomimcry & Smart Structures

Cornell Students at the Sciencenter! December 7th, 2013

Soft Robotics for Architects
Soft Robots in the Classroom

 Design Lecture Series, Schedule:

Prof. Robert Kreuzbauer, Benjamin Gadbaw & Warit Tulyathorn (IDEO), Dr. Gerald Wilson

A mult-gait robot squeezes under an obstacle - PNAS
Puncture Resistant & Self-Sealing Soft Actuators
Display & camouflage of soft robots - Science
Internal combustion causes a soft robot to jump - Check out the paper in Angewandte Chemie's Early View