The present editorial paper analyzes the hundred recent research works on soft actuation to understand the current main research focus in the light of the grand challenges in the field. Two characteristic paper types were obtained: one focuses on soft actuator design, manufacturing and demonstration, while another includes in addition the development of functional materials. Although vast majority of the works showcased soft actuation, evaluation of its robustness by multi-cyclic actuation was reported in less than 50% of the works, while only 10% described successful actuation for more than 1000 cycles. It is suggested that broadening the research focus to include investigation of mechanisms underlying the degradation of soft functional material performance in real cyclic actuation conditions, along with application of artificial intelligence methods for prediction of muscle behavior, may allow overcoming the reliability issues and developing robust soft-material actuators. The outcomes of the present work might be applicable to the entire soft robotics domain.
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