The last decade has seen tremendous technological advancements in the field of Robot-assisted Minimally Invasive Surgery (RMIS). Robotic surgical systems, such as the da Vinci system by Intuitive Surgical have penetrated the operating theatre and have shown to represent a suitable alternative to laparoscopic surgery, at least for a number of procedures such as prostatectomy. Its main advantage over existing techniques is that it allows surgeons to conduct complex procedures in an intuitive way while providing 3D views of the operating area. Limitations, though, stem from the fact that such manipulation devices are built from straight, rigid links and lack tactile sensing modalities as well as haptic feedback. More recent research efforts have focussed on creating surgical robots whose structure is flexible allowing the robot to follow more complex trajectories without negatively impacting on healthy tissue, including systems such as the i-snake (Imperial College) and HARP (Carnegie Mellon University) and concentric tube robots (Webster/Dupont). Departing from these types of robots, which are fundamentally based on a structure made from rigid link elements, EU project STIFF-FLOP proposes a new concept of modern, inherently safe robots for minimally invasive surgery, capable of morphing from a stiff to a soft state. Inspired by the octopus, the vision of the project is to develop a fully-integrated surgical robot system, combining soft and stiffness-controllable mechanisms, pneumatic and hydraulic actuation, tactile and force sensors, haptics as well as advanced control and learnable navigation techniques. The presentation will give an overview of the STIFF-FLOP project, the advancements to date and the challenges that lie ahead.