Conventionally, engineers have employed rigid materials to fabricate precise, predictable robotic systems, which are easily modelled as rigid members connected at discrete joints. Natural systems, however, often match or exceed the performance of robotic systems with deformable bodies. Cephalopods, for example, achieve amazing feats of manipulation and locomotion without a skeleton; even vertebrates such as humans achieve dynamic gaits by storing elastic energy in their compliant bones and soft tissues. Inspired by nature, engineers have begun to explore the design and control of soft-bodied robots composed of compliant materials. This Review discusses recent developments in the emerging field of soft robotics.