Projects

Underwater Swimmers

Underwater Swimmers

Underwater swimmers present unique opportunities for using bodily reconfiguration for self-propulsion. Origami-inspired designs are low-cost, fast to fabricate, robust, and can be used to
create compliant mechanisms useful in energy-efficient underwater locomotion. In this project,
we demonstrate an origami-inspired robot that can change its body shape to ingest and expel
water, creating a jet that propels it forward similarly to cephalopods. We use the magic ball
origami pattern, which can transform between ellipsoidal (low volume) and spherical (high
volume) shapes. A custom actuation mechanism contracts the robot to take in fluid, and the
inherent mechanics of the magic ball returns the robot to its natural shape upon release. We
describe the design and control of this robot and verify its locomotion in a water tank. The
resulting robot is able to move forward at 6.7 cm/s (0.2 body lengths/s), with a cost of transport
of 2.0. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ1nx_kOw3w

Cynthia Sung

Gabel Family Term Assistant Professor, CIS & ESE


Dongsheng Chen

Robotics MSE '19; PhD, MEAM


Siddharth Panchanadam

Robotics MSE - Accelerated Master's


Underwater Swimmers