Soft, flexible robots, fabricated using magnetically-active elastomers, are capable of very large deformations, and are actuated at distance thus allowing for extremely small scale. This combination of properties is understandably appealing to the minimally invasive surgical community but, due to the soft materials and low actuating forces involved, one prominent challenge is the functionalization of such magnetic devices.
In response to this challenge, in collaboration with the Surgical Robotics lab at the University of Twente (https://surgicalroboticslab.nl/), we have developed a variable stiffness robot, controlled by remote magnetic actuation, and capable of grasping objects of varying sizes. We demonstrate a reversible high deformation coiling action induced via a transient magnetic field and a synchronized sliding nitinol backbone. Our soft magnetic coiling grasper is visually tracked and controlled in closed loop exhibiting coiling deformation up to angles of 400◦.