Bio-Inspired Autonomous Systems

The aim of Bio-Inspired Autonomous Systems is to extract principles of sensorimotor control, biomechanics and fluid dynamics of underwater propulsion and control in aquatic and amphibious animals that underlie the agility, stealth, efficiency and sensory adaptations of these animals. The principles that emerge from this interdisciplinary research are formalized and explored in advanced prototypes. The goal of this program is to expand the operational envelope of Navy underwater and amphibious vehicles and enable enhanced underwater manipulation.

Research Concentration Areas

  • Bio-Inspired propulsion and control
  • Bio-sensing for sensorimotor control
  • Soft-robotic manipulation
  • Cross-domain maneuver

Research Challenges and Opportunities

  • Interdisciplinary basic research to identify, model and emulate the principles of biomechanics, hydrodynamics and neural control in aquatic swimming organisms
  • Interdisciplinary basic research on bio-sensing in underwater organisms (including lateral line flow and pressure sensing, bio-sonar, electro-sense and optic flow) in the context of closed-loop sensorimotor control, navigation and obstacle avoidance
  • Basic research on the mechanisms and role of sensing in fish schooling to enable new models of coordination and swarming of underwater vehicles
  • Applied research on the development of novel advanced prototypes of bio-inspired underwater and cross-domain vehicles
  • Basic research on bio-inspired design principles of distributed sensing, actuation and control in soft biological structures and appendages combined with the development of novel multi-functional soft materials for revolutionary integrated soft robotic capabilities, including locomotion and manipulation
  • Basic and applied research on the development of arms and grippers that exploit soft elastomeric materials which are capable of complex manipulation (in water or air), are able to lift significant loads, and reversibly attach to surfaces
  • Basic and applied research to extract the principles of mobility in amphibious animals in order to develop bio-inspired designs for amphibious vehicles that can transition between the surf zone and beach

Program Contact Information

Name: Dr. Thomas McKenna

Title: Program Officer

Department: Code 341

Email for Questions:

Program Funding

Submit white papers, QUAD charts and full proposals for contracts to this email address: ONR Code 34 Research Submissions

Follow instructions within BAA for submission of grant proposals to website.

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