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The octopus is a marine animal whose body has no rigid structures. It has eight arms mainly composed of muscles organized in a peculiar structure, named muscular hydrostat, that can change stiffness and that is used as a sort of a modifiable skeleton. Furthermore, the morphology of the arms and the mechanical characteristics of their tissues are such that the interaction with the environment, namely water, is exploited to simplify the control of movements. From these considerations, the octopus emerges as a paradigmatic example of embodied intelligence and a good model for soft robotics. In this paper the design and the development of an artificial muscular hydrostat are reported, underling the efforts in the design and development of new technologies for soft robotics, like materials, mechanisms, soft actuators. The first prototype of soft robot arm is presented, with experimental results that show its capability to perform the basic movements of the octopus arm (like elongation, shortening, and bending) and demonstrate how embodiment can be effective in the design of robots.
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