Uncovering the biomechanics of cuttlefish swimming and suction cups

Cuttlefish display an incredible range of unique adaptations that make them an ideal model for soft robotics. At the moment, we are focused on uncovering the biomechanics of their suction cups and swimming abilities.

PI: Guillermo Amador

Questions we’re currently working on in the lab include:

1. The function of the sucker ring, a hard proteinaceous ring that grows a bit like a fingernail from the rim of the cup. What’s it doing in there? In the more-derived squid, they manifest as “teeth.” Do they serve a purpose in cuttlefish?

2. We have found that these tissues are softer and viscoelastic when compared to artificial biomimetic silicone materials. How can we build robots with soft and viscoelastic membranes?

3. How do these suction cups stick to rough textures and surfaces of varying hardnesses? Are these cups able to adhere to textures that artificial suction cups cannot? And, if so, how do they do it?

4. How do cuttlefish use their lateral fin and pulsatile jet to maneuver?

By answering these questions, we seek to develop better biomimetic robots and tools.

Tentacle suction cup morphology

Our study is fully funded by Wageningen University & Research through the Postdoc Talent Programme for a two-year postdoc position (Aug 2022 – Aug 2024). And we are participating in the Dutch Soft Robotics collaboration.