This paper addresses the design of wire actuated steerable electrode arrays for optimal insertions in cochlear implant surgery. These underactuated electrode arrays are treated as continuum robots which have an embedded actuation strand inside their flexible medium. By pulling on the actuation strand, an electrode array assumes a minimum-energy shape. The problems of designing optimal actuation strand placement are addressed in this paper. Based on the elastic modeling of the steerable electrode arrays proposed in this paper, an analytical solution of the strand placement is solved to minimize the shape discrepancy between a bent electrode array and a given target curve defined by the anatomy. Using the solved strand placement inside the steerable electrode array, an optimized insertion path planning with robotic assistance is proposed to execute the insertion process. Later, an optimization algorithm is presented to minimize the shape discrepancy between an inserted electrode array and a given target curve during the whole insertion process. Simulations show a steerable electrode array bending using the elastic model and robot insertion path planning with optimized strand placement. Two experiments have been conducted to validate the elastic model and algorithms.