A crawling robot driven by multi-stable origami

Alexander Pagano, Tongxi Yan, Brian Chien, A. Wissa, S. Tawfick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


Using origami folding to construct and actuate mechanisms and machines offers attractive opportunities from small, scalable, and cheap robots to deployable adaptive structures. This paper presents the design of a bio-inspired origami crawling robot constructed by folding sheets of paper. The origami building block structure is based on the Kresling crease pattern (CP), a chiral tower with a polygonal base, which expands and contracts through coupled longitudinal and rotational motion similar to a screw. We design the origami to have multi-stable structural equilibria which can be tuned by changing the folding CP. Kinematic analysis of these structures based on rigid-plates and hinges at fold lines precludes the shape transformation associated with the bistability of the physical models. To capture the kinematics of the bi-stable origami, the panels' deformation behavior is modeled utilizing principles of virtual folds. Virtual folds approximate material bending by hinged, rigid panels, which facilitates the development of a kinematic solution via rigid-plate rotation analysis. As such, the kinetics and stability of folded structures are investigated by assigning suitable torsional spring constants to the fold lines. The results presented demonstrate the effect of fold-pattern geometries on the snapping behavior of the bi-stable origami structure based on the Kresling pattern. The crawling robot is presented as a case study for the use of this origami structure to mimic crawling locomotion. The robot is comprised of two origami towers nested inside a paper bellow, and connected by 3D printed end plates. DC motors are used to actuate the expansion and contraction of the internal origami structures to achieve forward locomotion and steering. Beyond locomotion, this simple design can find applications in manipulators, booms, and active structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number094007
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 17 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Origami
  • active structures
  • bistability


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