The design phase in robotics engineering is the core action for defining functionality. In soft robotics, especially in soft grabbing mechanisms, the challenge is to envision the interaction with different objects in terms of shape, size and stiffness. By enhancing the design phase with virtual reality (VR), all involved entities in the process are provided with a visualization method that facilitates the process and supports the functionality definition. In this way, utilizing VR, we exploit the possibilities of the designed soft grabbing robot and at the same time analyze different applications. When it comes to grabbing objects, application can vary over industry and sizes: from harvesting fruits and vegetables in the agricultural industry, over sorting objects in warehouses, to handling break bulk in ports. In this paper we demonstrate the use of VR in the conceptual design phase of a smart robotic grasper inspired by elephant’s trunk. By applying VR in the early stages of the design process, we can analyze the robot and its interaction with the environment and intervene if needed in the CAD model. With this approach we are saving resources but more importantly time and at the end of the design stage we are confident in the robot’s functionality and performances.

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