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Description

This paper examines the design and control of a robotic arm inspired by the anatomy and neurophysiology of Octopus vulgaris in light of embodiment theory. Embodiment in an animal is defined as the dynamic coupling between sensory-motor control, anatomy, materials, and the environment that allows for the animal to achieve effective behaviour. Octopuses in particular are highly embodied and dexterous animals: their arms are fully flexible, can bend in any direction, grasp objects and modulate stiffness along their length. In this paper the biomechanics and neurophysiology of octopus have been analysed to extract relevant information for use in the design and control of an embodied soft robotic arm. The embodied design requirements are firstly defined, and how the biology of the octopus meets these requirements presented. Next, a prototype continuum arm and control architecture based on octopus biology, and meeting the design criteria, are presented. Finally, experimental results are presented to show how the developed prototype arm is able to reproduce motions performed by live octopus for contraction, elongation, bending, and grasping.

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