Robotic underwater propulsion inspired by the octopus multi-arm swimming

Michael Sfakiotakis, Asimina Kazakidi, Nikolaos Pateromichelakis, John A. Ekaterinaris, Dimitris P. Tsakiris

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

16 Citations (Scopus)


The multi-arm morphology of octopus-inspired robotic systems may allow their aquatic propulsion, in addition to providing manipulation functionalities, and enable the development of flexible robotic tools for underwater applications. In the present paper, we consider the multi-arm swimming behavior of the octopus, which is different than their, more usual, jetting behavior, and is often used to achieve higher propulsive speeds, e.g., for chasing prey. A dynamic model of a robot with a pair of articulated arms is employed to study the generation of this mode of propulsion. The model includes fluid drag contributions, which we support by detailed Computational Fluid Dynamic analysis. To capture the basic characteristics of octopus multi-arm swimming a sculling mode is proposed, involving arm oscillations with an asymmetric speed profile. Parametric simulations were used to identify the arm oscillation characteristics that optimize propulsion for sculling, as well as for undulatory arm motions. Tests with a robotic prototype in a water tank provide preliminary validation of our analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9781467314039
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2012


  • biologically-Inspired Robots
  • hydrodynamics
  • octopus
  • underwater propulsion


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