Marie Donlon | June 20, 2023

Researchers at China University of Petroleum (East China) have developed a worm-like robot featuring an origami-inspired body.

According to its developers, the worm-inspired robot incorporates actuators that respond to magnetic forces. Once exposed to such forces, the origami-based body structure of the worm will compress and bend, encouraging the robot to move much like a worm might.

Source: Jin et al.Source: Jin et al.

This is thanks to the design of the robotic worm, which is comprised of 24 magnetic sheets within the body, an origami-inspired backbone and two neodymium (NdFeB) magnets located outside the body.

During simulations in the lab, the team had the robot demonstrate three different types of motion: the inchworm, Omega and hybrid motions. The researchers suggest that all three different styles of locomotion could enable the robotic worm to avoid obstacles and climb walls, for instance.

The robotic worm’s developers are reportedly eyeing the robot — which is easy and inexpensive to replicate thanks to its system of mostly paper and magnets — for potential pipeline cleaning and parcel delivery applications.

A paper detailing the robotic worm, “A worm-inspired robot based on origami structures driven by the magnetic field,” appears in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.