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Mimicking the thigmotropic behaviour of climbing plants to design a tactile-based grasping device for the space environment

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 18:56
Contract Nr.: 
GSP Ident.: 
Grasping mechnism
University of Bozen
Start Date: 
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
End Date: 
Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Investigating and finding innovative concepts and solutions to understand and mimic the grasping and pulling behaviour of tendril bearing climbing plants.
This work aims at studying the rules and strategies behind the climbing plants that exploit tendrils from a bio-mimetic point of view. Such analysis will tackle these aspects to “read" the natural grasping behaviour also from an engineering point of view. Indeed, a robotic design phase requires a deep comprehension and evaluation of the plants principles. Pea and passiflora plants have been chosen to monitor and study the tendril behaviours: circumnutation, coiling/grasping and free-coiling.
Plant behaviour has been translated into engineering models, rules and ideas. Different materials and techniques have been evaluated both to set-up future effective bio-mimetic mechanisms and to validate the experimental observations.
A robotic approach has been exploited to describe and simulate from a kinematic point of view a bio-inspired robotic tendril.
A practical realization of a modular bio-inspired grasping robotic tendril has been designed together with a proof-of-concept of a section for the modular structure.

Executive summary: