Departmental Papers (MEAM)

Document Type

Conference Paper

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:
McMahan, W. and I.D. Walker. (2009). "Octopus-Inspired Grasp-Synergies for Continuum Manipulators." Proceedings of the 2008 IEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetrics. Bangkok, Thailand. February 2009.

©2009 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or to reuse any copyrighted component of this work in other works must be obtained from the IEEE.


Human operation of continuum “continuous-backbone” manipulators remains difficult, because of both the complex kinematics of these manipulators and the need to coordinate their many degrees of freedom. We present a novel synergy-based approach for operator interfaces, by introducing a series of octopus-arm inspired grasp-synergies. These grasp-synergies automatically coordinate the degrees of freedom of the continuum manipulator, allowing an operator to perform kinematically complex grasping motions through simple and intuitive joystick inputs. This effectively reduces the complexity of operation and allows the operator to devote more of his attention to higher-level concerns (e.g. goal, environment). We demonstrate the grasp-synergies interface design in both simulation and hardware using the nine degree of freedom Octarm continuum manipulator.


Continuum manipulators, user interface, trunk, tentacle, biologically inspried robts



Date Posted: 12 October 2010

This document has been peer reviewed.