Weak DC motors generate earthworm locomotion without a brain

Yoichi Masuda, Masato Ishikawa, Akio Ishiguro

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we develop an extremely simple earthworm-like robot as a minimal model of the wave generation principle of earthworms. The major contribution of this work is to show that autonomous and distributed peristaltic wave generation is possible without a sensor, controller, or microprocessor. The key idea behind this brainless robot is to exploit the passivity intrinsic to the low-torque DC motor in each linear joint as a control law of a rhythmic oscillator. To reproduce an earthworm-like body structure that allows body contraction and expansion, the proposed robot is composed of multiple body segments that are mutually connected by linear joints. Inflation of the body segment was reproduced by a flexible plate that connects two adjacent segments. The experiments show that the brainless robot generates peristaltic locomotion similar to that of real earthworms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiomimetic and Biohybrid Systems - 7th International Conference, Living Machines 2018, Proceedings
EditorsNathan Lepora, Vasiliki Vouloutsi, Anna Mura, Paul F. Verschure, Jose Halloy, Michael Mangan, Tony J. Prescott
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9783319959719
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event7th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems, 2018 - Paris, France
Duration: 2018 Jul 172018 Jul 20

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume10928 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference7th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems, 2018


  • Brainless control
  • Crawling
  • Decentralized autonomous control
  • Earthworm-like robot
  • Peristaltic motion


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