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An Octopus Anatomy-inspired Robotic Arm
Published 2010 · Engineering, Computer Science
This paper focuses on the design of a robotic arm inspired to the anatomy and morphology of an octopus arm. The octopus is a boneless animal and its amazing dexterity is due to its muscular structure where longitudinal (axial), transverse (radial) and oblique muscles seamlessly interact while preserving hydrostaticity i.e. volume conservation (“muscular hydrostat” ). Mimicking some features of the octopus is instrumental to design a dexterous and compliant system. After analysing the relevant anatomical and morphological characteristics of the octopus arm, the key biomechanical features of interest to the design of a robotic arm have been identified. A design methodology has been developed based on the analysis of the muscular hydrostat properties. A prototype arm has been built using bespoke contracting pneumatic muscles and expanding elements. In the current stage of development the system has 15 actuated degrees of motion (DOM) and 8 degrees of freedom (DOF), all independently controllable through valves and a dedicated electronics and software interface. Pros and cons of the current design as well as practical prototyping trade-offs are thoroughly described.