Minimal Bio-Inspired Crawling Robots with Motion Control Capabilities

Jintian Wu, Mingyi Liu*, Damiano Padovani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nonskeletal animals such as worms achieve locomotion via crawling. We consider them as an inspiration to design robots that help underline the mechanisms of crawling. In this paper, we aim to identify an approach with the simplest structure and actuators. Our robots consist of cut-and-fold bodies equipped with pneumatically-driven soft actuators. We have developed fabrication techniques for coin-sized robots. Experiments showed that our robots can move up to 4.5 mm/s with straight motion (i.e., 0.1 body lengths per second) and perform cornering and U-turns. We have also studied the friction characteristics of our robots with the ground to develop a multistate model with stick–slip contact conversions. Our theoretical analyses depict comparable results to experiments demonstrating that simple and straightforward techniques can illustrate the crawling mechanism. Considering the minimal robots’ structure, this result is a critical step towards developing miniature crawling robots successfully.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • bio-inspiration
  • crawling robot
  • fluid-driven actuation
  • friction
  • modeling
  • robotics
  • soft actuator


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