Efficient worm-like locomotion: slip and control of soft-bodied peristaltic robots

Bioinspir Biomim. 2013 Sep;8(3):035003. doi: 10.1088/1748-3182/8/3/035003.


In this work, we present a dynamic simulation of an earthworm-like robot moving in a pipe with radially symmetric Coulomb friction contact. Under these conditions, peristaltic locomotion is efficient if slip is minimized. We characterize ways to reduce slip-related losses in a constant-radius pipe. Using these principles, we can design controllers that can navigate pipes even with a narrowing in radius. We propose a stable heteroclinic channel controller that takes advantage of contact force feedback on each segment. In an example narrowing pipe, this controller loses 40% less energy to slip compared to the best-fit sine wave controller. The peristaltic locomotion with feedback also has greater speed and more consistent forward progress

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Annelida / physiology*
  • Biomimetics / methods*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Friction / physiology
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Hardness / physiology
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Peristalsis / physiology*
  • Robotics / methods*