Morpho: A self-deformable modular robot inspired by cellular structure

Chih Han Yu, Kristina Haller, Donald Ingber, Radhika Nagpal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

59 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present a modular robot design inspired by the creation of complex structures and functions in biology via deformation. Our design is based on the Tensegrity model of cellular structure, where active filaments within the cell contract and expand to control individual cell shape, and sheets of such cells undergo large-scale shape change through the cooperative action of connected cells. Such deformations play a role in many processes, e.g. early embryo shape change and lamprey locomotion. Modular robotic systems that replicate the basic deformable multicellular structure have the potential to quickly generate large-scale shape change and create dynamic shapes to achieve different global functions. Based on this principle, our design includes four different modular components: (1) active links, (2) passive links, (3) surface membranes, and (4) interfacing cubes. In hardware implementation, we show several self-deformable structures that can be generated from these components, including a self-deformable surface, expandable cube, terrain-adaptive bridge [1]. We present experiments to demonstrate that such robotic structures are able to perform real time deformation to adapt to different environments. In simulation, we show that these components can be configured into a variety of bio-inspired robots, such as an amoeba-like robot and a tissue-inspired material. We argue that self-deformation is well-suited for dynamic and sensing-adaptive shape change in modular robotics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2008 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS
Pages3571-3578
Number of pages8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
Event2008 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS - Nice, France
Duration: Sep 22 2008Sep 26 2008

Publication series

Name2008 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS

Conference

Conference2008 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS
Country/TerritoryFrance
CityNice
Period9/22/089/26/08

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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