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Novel Design Principles and Technologies for a New Generation of High Dexterity Soft-bodied Robots Inspired by the Morphology and Behaviour of the Octopus (OCTOPUS)
Start date: 01 Feb 2009, End date: 31 Jul 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The octopus is a marine invertebrate with amazing motor capabilities and intelligent behaviour. Its body has no rigid structures and has interesting characteristics, from an engineering viewpoint: infinite number of degrees of freedom (dof), bending in many different directions, variable and controllable stiffness, high dexterity, fine manipulation, highly distributed control. The octopus represents a biological demonstration of how effective behaviour in the real world is tightly related to the morphology of the body.The grand challenge of the OCTOPUS IP is investigating and understanding the principles that give rise to the octopus sensory-motor capabilities and at incorporating them in new design approaches and ICT and robotics technologies to build an embodied artefact, based broadly on the anatomy of the 8-arm body of an octopus, and with similar performance in water, in terms of dexterity, speed, control, flexibility, and applicability.The new technologies expected to result from the IP concern actuation (soft actuators), sensing (distributed flexible tactile sensors), control and robot architectures (distributed control, coordination of many dof), materials (variable stiffness), mechanisms (soft-bodied hydrostat structures), kinematics models.The final robotic octopus prototype will be capable of locomotion on different substrates, of squeezing into small apertures, of dextrous manipulation by coordinating the eight arms, of anchoring in order to exert forces on external environment; of controlling a flexible structure with virtually infinite dof.This IP is expected to achieve new science and new technology, demonstrated by joint publications and patents, through a truly interdisciplinary research work programme, by a consortium of engineering and biology groups, each involving diverse disciplines and all experienced in biomimetics, possessing, as a consortium, the best expertise available in Europe for pursuing the objectives of the IP.
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