So from last year, we have this incredible robotic tentacle, able to grip things and move flexibly and naturally. The main purpose of that project was for fitting into tight spaces. But how can we emulate an octopus’ incredible movement?
This video shows the motion research that a group of researchers from the Foundation of Research and Technology in Greece presented at this year’s IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) held in Karlsruhe, Germany. The goal of this project was to emulate an octopus’ unique style of swimming, called sculling, which uses all eight of the tentacles at the same time for forward movement. In the video, this is the G1 gait.
At first, the researchers started with stiff joints, as seen in the video above. This video demonstrates how the computer model connected with the actual testing procedure, to see that the movement was effective. Then, in the final seconds of the video, the viewer can see the use of soft compliant legs with movement in the water.
The G2 gait on the other hand, is unique in and of itself. While an octopus only swims with the eight tentacles moving synchronously, experiments have shown that some artificial gaits produce much smoother movement compared to the bursts of forward motion in sculling. Thus, researchers are also testing movement such as the G2 gait to see the effects on motion.
Of course, this robot octopus still has a long way to go. To start it off, a real octopus has funnel that pumps water out at high velocity, which does wonders for forward motion. The equivalent on a robot would probably be something akin to a pump jet motor. In addition, octopus anatomy points out one main area that has not been researched that could have potential. The base of an octopus’ tentacle has a web that connects it to all of the rest, which has potential for motion efficiency. Of course, all of this will require more testing, and only time will tell.
Also something to note is that the tentacles look and probably feel real. So, any of you out there with cephalophobia, I’m so sorry.