7th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Soft Robotics


San Diego, CA USA
April 14-17, 2024
7th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Soft Robotics


San Diego, CA USA
April 14-17, 2024

Robosoft competition rules 2024

Competition teams

Official information

The official information and interpretation about rules will be available on the Robosoft 2024 website https://www.softroboticsconference.org/. Competition rules (including this document) and logistics are subject to change. Please regularly check the Robosoft 2024 website for the latest updates. In case of any questions, participants are invited to carefully read this document; for further specifications contact the competition chairs.

See appendix for version history.

Competition Overview

The Robosoft Competition 2024 invites teams to test the design and control of their robots within a number of challenges. The competition will showcase novelties of soft robots like resilience, body compliance, delicate contact, and deformability.

The principal aim of the competition is twofold: first, to challenge state-of-the-art soft robots; second, to push the performance of soft robots beyond the state-of-the-art to increase their impact value.

Teams may comprise any combination of students, faculty, industrial partners, private partners, or government institutions without restricting the number of participants per team. One member of the team must be elected as Team Leader (TL) and will act as contact point for the team.

The Robosoft Competition 2024 is made of features which focus on real-world robot applications. This competition allows teams to showcase a range of capabilities across mobility, manipulation, and more. In the 2024 edition, we keep exploring the autonomy on our mobile robots or manipulators, to reflect the advancements soft robotics has made over the past decade. For this competition, teams are invited to bring their own complete robot system. However, a standard industrial manipulator arm can be provided if requested.

The competition contains a number of independent features: points are accumulated by executing partially or completely any feature within a set time. The robot that will earn the maximum total number of points will be considered the winner of the Robosoft Competition 2024. There will also be independent winners for both mobility and manipulation, based on the highest score over the subset of features in the each of those two categories. Each team participates with one robot design, but individuals are allowed to compete on multiple teams.

The competition will be held in person, but participants are invited to connect remotely if they wish to showcase their robots performing the scenarios from their lab (without competing).

Fruit Salad: The Robosoft Competition 2024

In contrast to previous years, the Robosoft Competition 2024 does not revolve around scenarios, but rather consists of an open “sandbox” style environment in which robots can face a wide variety of challenges and obstacles; points will be awarded for each such feature successfully addressed. These features target a variety of soft-robotic capabilities generally framed within the context of mobility and/or manipulation, and will be described in detail in the next sections. The theme of this year’s competition is “Fruit Salad”.

The event itself will take place over one day. The morning and afternoon will be devoted to qualification, in which teams attempt to gain as many points as possible within a timed interval; multiple such attempts will be allowed, and only the highest score will be kept. The finals will be held on the evening of the second day, in which the top scoring teams from the qualifications compete head to head in a pairwise elimination bracket to determine the overall competition winner.

As in prior years, the competition will include secret features—revealed only on the first day of the event—to reward adaptability and modifyability.

New this year will be a specific scoring element to demonstrate and reward the “softness” of the robot entries. Each team leader will be required to get hit in the face with their robot, with a scaling point scale based on the magnitude of impact sustained.

The arena

The arena consists of two open rectangular spaces of size 8’x8’ (240cm x 240cm, i.e. two standard 4’x8’ plywood sheets side-by-side) connected by a variety of modular pathways 1’ (30cm) wide and 8’ (240cm) long, as sketched in the figure below. Note that this merely for illustration purposes and is subject to change. This is designed to be relatively easy to manufacture for testing purposes, and complete specifications are provided in the appendix. The two rectangular spaces will be deemed the manipulation zones, and each will have space for facility- and competitor- provided robot arms upon which soft end-effectors can be mounted. The pathways connecting the spaces will be deemed the mobility zone, and be accessible to tethered power and pressure if necessary. Each zone will encompass a number of independent features.

Sketch of competition arena


Each feature will be scored independently on a 4+1 point scale:

Each feature score can have multipliers based on added robot characteristics:

Multiple attempts can be made at a feature; only the highest scoring attempt will be registered. Points cannot be scored for the same feature multiple times.

The sum of all feature scores amassed over a 30 minute period will be the score subtotal. The final team score will include an additional overall score multiplier based on the result of getting hit in the face with the robot, allowing the final team score to be up 150% of the score subtotal.

Should manual intervention (i.e. human contact with the robot) be required during an attempt at a feature (e.g. to rescue a stuck robot), no points will be awarded for that attempt at that feature. If the robot needs to be removed from the arena altogether (e.g. for repair), the scoring period will end, and whatever points have been accumulated before then will form the score subtotal.

A partial scoring rubric is included in the appendix.

Features and challenges

Getting hit in the face

The team leader (TL) will lay down upon the floor, facing up, wearing safety goggles and possibly a mouthguard (if desired), but no other safety equipment. The robot will be held at rest above the face of the TL such that the bottom of the robot is at least 50cm above the tip of the TL’s nose, and then released so that it impacts the TL’s face. The orientation of the robot (and choice of robot/body if relevant) will be chosen adversarially by the judge, but the height will be specified by the team. For every 3cm over 50cm that the robot is released, an additional percentage point will be added to the final score softness multiplier, up to a maximum of +50% bonus (200cm drop).

The team may elect to skip this feature altogether for a 50% penalty to their score subtotal for their final score.

This untimed feature will happen immediately before the robot’s entry into the arena for its scoring period.

Environmental resilience

Within the manipulation zone, there will be a collection of regions with adversarial environmental conditions designed to test the robustness of the robot. Points will be awarded for both the magnitude and duration of challenge survived.

These features need to be attempted before any manipulation or mobility challenges, i.e. the robots must demonstrate their functionality only after surviving the adverse conditions. For multibody/multirobot systems, the entire system must experience the feature to earn the points.

For the sake of logistics, the robots can be manually placed to attempt the features (i.e. gripper-only robots can be disconnected from a manipulator arm to be placed in the feature regions).

Condition Description Low magnitude high magnitude
Heat Hotplates / chambers forming two high temperature zones boiling water flame
Cold Metal plates attached to / chambers forming two low temperature reservoirs water ice dry ice (CO2)
Impact A heavy weight attached to a hinged hammer weight lowered on the robot weight bounced onto robot from height
Puncture Ground surface covered with sharp edges robot placed on textured ground robot dragged across textured ground

Additional adversarial environmental features may also be included, to be revealed to all the teams only on the first day of the event.


The scoring rubric for these environmental features follows the pattern:


In the center of each manpulation zone will be a basket filled with fruits. These fruits will need to be retrieved from the basket and deposited in one of three locations: a grocery bag, a bowl, or a plate. When moving to the grocery bag, the fruits must be transported as-is. For the bowl or plate, the fruits will have to be modified / manipulated first. The plate will require precise positioning when deposited.


The basket may contain the following fruits; each is presented along with its required modification prior to deposition in the bowl or plate:

Additional fruits (requiring different modifications) may also be included, to be revealed to all the teams only on the first day of the event.


The scoring rubric for these fruits follows the pattern:

Scoring notes


Between the two manipulation zones will be a number of modular tunnels, each containing a mobility challenge. Teams will accumulate points for each tunnel traversed by the robot. The default form factor for each tunnel will be an 8’ (240cm) long plywood-walled channel, U-shaped in cross section with three sides of a 1’ (30cm) square. The various channels will be filled with obstacles and difficult terrain to challenge movement.

Each tunnel will contain a progress flag approximately halfway through the feature, indicating the point to reach to achieve partial points. The entirety of the robot (including all sections of a multibody/multirobot system) must cross the threshold to earn points. Most tunnels will not be symmetric, and so points will be attained separately for passing through the feature in each direction. Some tunnels may contain fruits to retrieve and transport to the manipulation zones for a bonus 1 point for integration.


The collection of tunnels may involve the following challenges:

Additional tunnels (involving different mobility challenges) may also be included, to be revealed to all the teams only on the first day of the event.


The scoring rubric for the mobility features follows the pattern:


In addition to an award presented to the overall competition winner, a number of additional awards will be presented to teams based on particularly noteworthy criteria.

Venue and Schedule

The Robosoft Competition 2024 will be held at the conference venue alongside the main conference:

Hard Rock Hotel 207 Fifth Ave San Diego, CA 92101


The venue will be equipped with the following infrastructure:

The committee will evaluate additional equipment requests on a case-by-case basis. However, teams should expect to bring all the materials and equipment they need.

Submission process

To ensure competitive entries only, a selection phase will take place in which a technical committee will evaluate the eligibility of each proposed robot. The technical committee will be supervised by the competition chairs, and may be aided by expert panelists.

The qualification submission will require the submission of a form Submission Form; this form must be submitted by Dec. 29, 2023 and should contain a technical description of the robot and a video (max 2 minutes). Videos should be privately uploaded online, and access should be provided with a link within the online form. The video should demonstrate the skills of the robot at the current state of development, while the technical document will summarize the expected improvements to be shown at the competition. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by Jan. 31, 2024. Participants will be requested to confirm their participation by March 1, 2024.

Key dates

Evaluation criteria

The submission video should clearly demonstrate skills directly related to the features and tasks of the competition: teams should demonstrate minimum capabilities of their robots allowing them to be competitive during the competition. To be precise, the video must demonstrate a robot performing at least one of the following tasks:

The evaluation criteria will be on a do-it basis, thus a simple video demonstrating the ability to perform one of the skills listed above grants the eligibility.

It is mandatory to demonstrate the softness of the submitted entries within the video by showing the TL getting hit in the face with the robot.

Final robots which differ significantly from the submitted entries may be disqualified.


The competition is intended to be as open-ended as possible to accommodate and encourage participants’ creativity. However, some restrictions are required due to logistics constraints.

Keep in mind that the organizers are not responsible to damage to persons or objects. Teams are responsible for all the safety requests their robot demands, or for the safety of their actions during the competition.


Version history

Version date posted update notes / changelog
1.0 Sep 22, 2023 Initial rule set
2.0 Dec 8, 2023 Arena sketch, submission information, submission deadline extension


Contact information