Documentation and instruction for the tutorial: Finite Element Analysis-based soft robotic modeling: Simulating a soft-actuator in SOFA



This document represent a step by step guide for a simulation in SOFA framework of a cable driven soft robot.


Soft robotics modeling is a research topic that is
evolving fast. Many techniques are present in literature but most
of them require analytical models with a lot of equations that are
time consuming, hard to resolve and not so easy to handle. For
this reason, the help of a soft mechanics simulator is essential
in this field. This paper presents a tutorial on how to build a
soft-robot model using an open-source Finite Element Analysis
(FEA) simulator, called SOFA. This software is able to generate
a simulation scene from a code written in Python or XML, so it
can be used by people that with different fields of competence
like mechanical knowledge, knowledge of material properties and
programming skills. As a case study, a Python simulation of a
cable-driven soft actuator that makes contact with a rigid object
is considered. The basic working principles of SOFA required
to make a scene are explained step by step. In particular, it
shows how to simulate the mechanics and animate the bending
behavior of the actuator, and the importance of the knowledge of
the constitutive material properties for a good modelling of the
mechanical system. Furthermore, it will be shown also how to
retrieve and save data from simulation, demonstrating that SOFA
can easily adapt to a multi-disciplinary subject as the research
in soft-robotics, but also be useful for teaching simulation and
programming language principles to engineering students.
Date made available24 Mar 2023
Date of data production1 Mar 2022 - 30 Mar 2022


  • soft robotics
  • simulation
  • tutorial


  • Format
  • py
  • pdf
  • txt
  • zip

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