Learning by Imitation with the STIFF-FLOP Surgical Robot: A Biomimetic Approach Inspired by Octopus Movements
Transferring skills from a biological organism to a hyper-redundant system is a challenging task, especially when the two agents have very different structure/embodiment and evolve in different environments. In this article we propose to address this problem by designing motion primitives in the form of probabilistic dynamical systems. We take inspiration from invertebrate systems in nature to seek for versatile representations of motion/behavior primitives in continuum robots. We take the perspective that the incredibly varied skills achieved by the octopus can guide roboticists toward the design of robust motor skill encoding schemes, and present our ongoing work that aims at combining statistical machine learning, dynamical systems and stochastic optimization to study the problem of transferring movement patterns from an octopus arm to a flexible surgical robot (STIFF-FLOP) composed of 2 modules with constant curvatures. The approach is tested in simulation by imitation and self-refinement of an octopus reaching motion.