OCTOPUS (OCTOPUS IP, FP7-ICT 2007.8.5, FET Proactive, Embodied Intelligence, Grant agreement no. 231608, 2009-2013) is an Integrating Project funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7), in the theme of the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET-Proactive).
OCTOPUS aims at investigating and understanding the key principles of the octopus body and brain, by building a soft 8-arm robot, able to move in water, to elongate its arms, to reach and grasp, and to locomote.
The octopus is a unique and paradigmatic example for bio-inspired soft robotics, because of its great motor capabilities and enhanced behavior, due to the particular muscular structure and sensory-motor system. Consequently, this marine invertebrate offers inspiration for the design and development of new soft actuation systems, new sensors, smart material, modeling and control systems.
The OCTOPUS Integrating Project is not focused only on the study and imitation of one octopus arm, but on the study of the whole octopus body and how its eight arms are coordinated in manipulation and locomotion tasks. This project is expected to achieve new science and new technology.
The new technologies expected to result concern actuation (soft actuators), sensing (distributed flexible tactile sensors), control and robot architectures (distributed control, coordination of many degree of freedom), materials (with variable stiffness), mechanisms (soft-bodied structures), kinematics models.
The final robotic octopus will be capable of locomotion on different substrates, of dexterous manipulation by coordinating the flexible eight arms, or of anchoring in order to exert forces on external environment varying arms stiffness.
An interdisciplinary team of roboticists, engineers, mathematicians, biologists and neuroscientists, works in OCTOPUS.
The project is coordinated by the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (Pisa, Italy), and involve 6 european partners:
- The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI,Jerusalem, Israel)
- The Weizmann Institute of Science (Weizmann, Rehovot, Israel)
- The University of Zurich (UZH, Zurich, Switzerland)
- The Italian Institute of Science (IIT, Genova, Italy)
- The University of Reading (UREAD, Reading, United Kingdom)
- The Foundation for Research and Technologies (FORTH, Heraklion, Crete, Greece)
Bioengineering and biological methods are applied to study, measure and model octopus performance, with results of new scientific data beyond the state of the art, as well as novel design principles and specifications for robotics purpose.
On the other side, bio-inspiration offers the possibility to use robotics and engineering approaches to contribute to insights into fundamental biological issues for scientific research.
The collaboration between engineering and biological sciences raises the possibility to reach new scientific and technological breakthroughs.
The project is already advancing the state of the art in soft robotics (for new technologies, soft actuators, sensorized skin, simulation models for continuum structures, control architectures), as well as in other disciplines, namely biology and neuroscience, in the area related to the study of the octopus.
The animal-like robots offer the possibility from one side to take inspiration from nature to build up new advanced technologies, which operate with better performance in difficult or normally impracticable and unstructured environments.
From the other side, biomimetics robots give the possibility to biologists and neurophysiologists to study animal functions and behaviors with physical model, for new scientific results.
OCTOPUS EXHIBITION atCheltenham Science Festival
June, 7-9 2013
BBC Nature News
Female octopuses stretch further
OCTOPUS EXHIBITION atLondon Science Museum
October 30- November 1, 2012
IEEE Spectrum: Robotic Octopus Takes First Betentacled Steps
New Scientist: Born to be Viral: Robot octopus shakes your hand
The Economist: Zoobotics. A new generation of animal-like robots is about to emerge from the laboratory
OCTOPUS Exhibition at FET2011
The Future and Emerging Technologies Conference, Budapest, May 4-6, 2011
Watch on YouTube Channel