Modeling and simulation of complex dynamic musculoskeletal architectures

Xiaotian Zhang, Fan Kiat Chan, Tejaswin Parthasarathy, Mattia Gazzola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Natural creatures, from fish and cephalopods to snakes and birds, combine neural control, sensory feedback and compliant mechanics to effectively operate across dynamic, uncertain environments. In order to facilitate the understanding of the biophysical mechanisms at play and to streamline their potential use in engineering applications, we present here a versatile numerical approach to the simulation of musculoskeletal architectures. It relies on the assembly of heterogenous, active and passive Cosserat rods into dynamic structures that model bones, tendons, ligaments, fibers and muscle connectivity. We demonstrate its utility in a range of problems involving biological and soft robotic scenarios across scales and environments: from the engineering of millimeter-long bio-hybrid robots to the synthesis and reconstruction of complex musculoskeletal systems. The versatility of this methodology offers a framework to aid forward and inverse bioengineering designs as well as fundamental discovery in the functioning of living organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4825
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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