Robotic Octopus Breaks Speed Record

It was early last year that researchers from Greece first brought their robotic owner of tentacles to the public’s attention but last week researchers Michael Sfakiotakis, Asimina Kazakidi, Avgousta Chatzidaki, Theodoros Evdaimon, and Dimitris P. Tsakiris showed the world their progress when they presented a paper at the  IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.

Robotic Octopus Breaks Speed Record

The paper entitled, Multi-arm Robotic Swimming With Octopus-Inspired Compliant Web” and a video that is making its rounds around the Internet detail the groups improvements over their odd choice for a robotic shape.

Great choice the octopus?

That said, I’m not sure it’s an odd choice, the octopus is a graceful and unique creature underwater and years of evolution have nearly perfected it. While the researchers still promise to add a web between the robot octupus’ tentacles that they believe could aid their creation in its speed they are not there yet.

What they have done, however, is added a soft silicon web to the “roboctopus”(?) that has doubled its speed. Oh, and they’ve also moved it out of the swimming pool and in to the Aegean Sea where it now crawls and carries objects like yellow balls clutched between two tentacles when told to do so.

The specs of improvement

“This robotic swimmer is first investigated computationally via dynamical models capturing the arm and web compliance, and indicating the effect of various kinematic parameters of the system on its motion,” according to the paper’s abstract “The performance of the robotic prototype is, then, tested experimentally, to demonstrate this novel mode of underwater propulsion by combining various patterns of sculling movements of the arms and web. Speeds of 0.5 body lengths per second and propulsive forces of up to 10.5 N were achieved, with a cost of transport as low as 0.62.”

If that reads a little long to you, there are four different videos that show what their octopus is capable of since last year.

Perhaps the coolest part of their research is when it was placed in the Aegean in the video, the octopus was immediately followed by shoals of small fish which suggest that someday we may see some wonderful surveillance of sea life without the distraction of a man or woman in SCUBA gear or a remote controlled submersible mixing things up too much.