The lack of a rigid backbone gives the arms of the octopus potentially infinite degrees of freedom, which makes them highly flexible and hyper-redundant. This would require a high level of computing resources if the body morphology of these arms would not have been designed so that their interaction with the environment simplifies their actuation. Their body morphology encodes strategies to translate a simple input into complex movements, e.g. to reach and fetch prey. Encoding these strategies in the design of artificial soft bodies can simplify the actuation of complex movements in soft robotic applications and extend soft robotic functionalities. Manufacturing techniques should be developed to incorporate this kind of intelligence in artificial soft bodies mechanically.
This study focuses on the working principles behind the embodied intelligence of the octopus arm and the development of manufacturing techniques to acquire the same level of mechanical intelligence in artificial soft bodies. Smart materials will be combined with conventional and unconventional silicone manufacturing techniques. Comparable to the octopus arm, these intelligent soft bodies are functional in small- and large-scale applications, which makes them widely employable. Examples of applications that could benefit from these intelligent soft bodies are steerable catheters for Minimal Invasive Surgery or soft grippers for deep-sea exploration.
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