Getting a Grip

Funded by: EPSRC UKRI

Principal Investigator: Dr Sina Sareh

Getting a Grip will develop smart anchoring modules that can be integrated into robots to enhance their abilities for mobility and manipulation in unstructured environments. The module adapts effective methods to interact with the environment taking into account its properties, living and non-living contents.

The research is inspired by the versatility of the octopus’ sucker, which can be used to grip clean or dirty surfaces, in air or under the water, and adapted to hold on to environments with varying degrees of force, from attaching to rocks underwater to withstand storm surges and waves, to delicately holding their egg capsules. Taking cues from the octopus, Getting a Grip is a sensory-physical anchoring module that can adjust the mode of interaction with the environment in response to its properties.

The development of robotic anchoring systems, with the ability for stable mooring and maintaining attachment for an extended time in different environments, is invaluable for a wide range of industrial, medical and other applications. These might include attachment by climbing robots for inspection and maintenance of buildings including heritage locations, power plants, steel bridges, and disaster zones; perching by flying robots that can provide a bird's-eye view of an area of interest or object manipulation; and attachment into delicate substrates. These smart attachments will also provide live information on the state of interactions between the robot and its surroundings.