Abstract: Robotic applications, which involve propulsion in unstructured environments, require understanding, and exploiting, the relationship between robot morphology and the control of its movement. Drawing inspiration from biology, where such issues have been effectively addressed by the evolutionary process, can help in designing agile robots, able to adapt robustly to a variety of environmental conditions.
This talk will focus on robotic systems inspired by the morphology and locomotion of the polychaete annelid marine worms and of the centipede arthropods, which combine body undulations with the action of numerous lateral appendages, to propel themselves efficiently on sand, mud, sediment, as well as underwater. This type of locomotion has been termed pedundulatory. The development of computational models for the mechanics and motion control of such systems, involving the dynamics of the system and its interaction with the environment, will be presented, as well as the related SIMUUN computational tools. These are exploited to study the generation of pedundulatory gaits and assist the design of robotic prototypes, able to locomote on a variety of unstructured, granular and deformable substrates.