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Whole Skin Locomotion Inspired by Amoeboid Motility Mechanisms

[+] Author Affiliations
Mark Ingram, Dennis Hong

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA

Paper No. DETC2005-85419, pp. 677-682; 6 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 29th Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, Parts A and B
  • Long Beach, California, USA, September 24–28, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4744-6 | eISBN: 0-7918-3766-1
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


In this paper, we present a novel locomotion mechanism for mobile robots inspired by the motility mechanisms of single celled organisms that use cytoplasmic streaming to generate pseudopods for locomotion. The Whole Skin Locomotion, as we call it, works by way of an elongated toroid which turns itself inside out in a single continuous motion, effectively generating the overall motion of the cytoplasmic streaming ectoplasmic tube in amoebae. With an elastic membrane or a mesh of links acting as its outer skin, the robot can easily squeeze between obstacles or under a collapsed ceiling and move forward using all of its contact surfaces for traction, or even squeeze itself through holes with diameters smaller than its nominal width by actively changing its cross section diameter making this the ideal locomotion method for search and rescue robots that need to traverse over or under rubble, or for applications where a robot needs to move in and maneuver itself into tight spaces such as for robotic endoscopes. This paper summarizes the many existing theories of amoeboid motility mechanisms, and examines how these can be applied on a macro scale as a novel mobile robot locomotion concept. Four locomotion mechanism models are presented with preliminary experiments and their results, demonstrating the feasibility of the whole skin locomotion strategy.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME
Topics: Skin , Mechanisms



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