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Description

We consider robotic analogues of the arms of the octopus, a cephalopod exhibiting a wide variety of dexterous movements and complex shapes, moving in an aquatic environment. Although an invertebrate, the octopus can vary the stiffness of its long arms and generate large forces, while also performing rapid motions within its aquatic environment. Previous studies of elongated robotic systems, moving in fluid environments, have mostly oversimplified the effects of flow and the generated hydrodynamic forces, in their dynamical models. The present paper uses computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analysis to perform high-fidelity numerical simulations of robotic prototypes emulating the morphology of octopus arms. The direction of the flow stream and the arm geometry (e.g., the presence of suckers), were among the parameters that were shown to affect significantly the flow field structure and the resulting hydrodynamic forces, which have a non-uniform distribution along the arm. The CFD results are supported by vortex visualization experiments in a water tank. The results of this investigation are being exploited for the design of soft-bodied robotic systems and the development of related motion control strategies.

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