Optimal Control of a Soft CyberOctopus Arm

Tixian Wang, Udit Halder, Heng Sheng Chang, Mattia Gazzola, Prashant G. Mehta

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


In this paper, we use the optimal control methodology to control a flexible, elastic Cosserat rod. An inspiration comes from stereotypical movement patterns in octopus arms, which are observed in a variety of manipulation tasks, such as reaching or fetching. To help uncover the mechanisms underlying these observed morphologies, we outline an optimal control-based framework. A single octopus arm is modeled as a Hamiltonian control system, where the continuum mechanics of the arm is modeled after the Cosserat rod theory, and internal, distributed muscle forces and couples are considered as controls. First order necessary optimality conditions are derived for an optimal control problem formulated for this infinite dimensional system. Solutions to this problem are obtained numerically by an iterative forward-backward algorithm. The state and adjoint equations are solved in a dynamic simulation environment, setting the stage for studying a broader class of optimal control problems. Trajectories that minimize control effort are demonstrated and qualitatively compared with experimentally observed behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2021 American Control Conference, ACC 2021
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781665441971
StatePublished - May 25 2021
Event2021 American Control Conference, ACC 2021 - Virtual, New Orleans, United States
Duration: May 25 2021May 28 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings of the American Control Conference
ISSN (Print)0743-1619


Conference2021 American Control Conference, ACC 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityVirtual, New Orleans


  • Cosserat rod
  • Hamiltonian systems
  • maximum principle
  • octopus
  • optimal control
  • soft robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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