Continuum robot arms inspired by cephalopods

Ian D. Walker, Darren M. Dawson, Tamar Flash, Frank W. Grasso, Roger T. Hanlon, Binyamin Hochner, William M. Kier, Christopher C. Pagano, Christopher D. Rahn, Qiming M. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article

161 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this paper, we describe our recent results in the development of a new class of soft, continuous backbone ("continuum") robot manipulators. Our work is strongly motivated by the dexterous appendages found in cephalopods, particularly the arms and suckers of octopus, and the arms and tentacles of squid. Our ongoing investigation of these animals reveals interesting and unexpected functional aspects of their structure and behavior. The arrangement and dynamic operation of muscles and connective tissue observed in the arms of a variety of octopus species motivate the underlying design approach for our soft manipulators. These artificial manipulators feature biomimetic actuators, including artificial muscles based on both electro-active polymers (EAP) and pneumatic (McKibben) muscles. They feature a "clean" continuous backbone design, redundant degrees of freedom, and exhibit significant compliance that provides novel operational capacities during environmental interaction and object manipulation. The unusual compliance and redundant degrees of freedom provide strong potential for application to delicate tasks in cluttered and/or unstructured environments. Our aim is to endow these compliant robotic mechanisms with the diverse and dexterous grasping behavior observed in octopuses. To this end, we are conducting fundamental research into the manipulation tactics, sensory biology, and neural control of octopuses. This work in turn leads to novel approaches to motion planning and operator interfaces for the robots. The paper describes the above efforts, along with the results of our development of a series of continuum tentacle-like robots, demonstrating the unique abilities of biologically-inspired design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number37
Pages (from-to)303-314
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Volume5804
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 9 2005
EventUnmanned Ground Vehicle Technology VII - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: Mar 29 2005Mar 31 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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    Walker, I. D., Dawson, D. M., Flash, T., Grasso, F. W., Hanlon, R. T., Hochner, B., Kier, W. M., Pagano, C. C., Rahn, C. D., & Zhang, Q. M. (2005). Continuum robot arms inspired by cephalopods. Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering, 5804, 303-314. [37]. https://doi.org/10.1117/12.606201