A Scalable Soft Robotic Cellbot

Ridhi Bansal*, Helmut Hauser, Jonathan Rossiter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


In nature, cells combine into different structures to perform the task at hand. Taking inspiration from cells, we present a proof-of-concept and a prototype of a soft modular cellbot composed of simple spherical elements (cells). Locomotion is achieved by establishing and exploiting frictional asymmetries in the interaction of cells and the terrain. We explore the effect of friction coefficient, actuation forcing function, number of cells and axial robot orientation on robot movement, using both simulation model and physical robot. The robot was built using multiple inflatable balls to represent cells connected by linear actuators. The structure, softness, compliance and the ability to deflate the structure for transporting are designed to enhance robustness, fault tolerance and cost effectiveness for disaster affected areas, nuclear sites, and outer space applications. The trend of displacement versus number of cells varies for different friction values. For a surface with mid-to-high static and kinetic friction coefficient, increasing the number of cells stabilises the robot on the ground, increasing the necessary frictional asymmetry and reducing slipping. This helps the designer exploit friction conditions by specifying the robot with suitable structural materials. Understanding the effect of these parameters will help to maximise robot movement by choosing an optimal configuration with respect to orientation or by merging or splitting the cellbot, based on the frictional properties of terrain.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiomimetic and Biohybrid Systems - 11th International Conference, Living Machines 2022, Proceedings
EditorsAlexander Hunt, Vasiliki Vouloutsi, Kenneth Moses, Roger Quinn, Anna Mura, Tony Prescott, Paul F. Verschure
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9783031204692
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event11th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems, Living Machines 2022 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 19 Jul 202222 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume13548 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference11th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems, Living Machines 2022
CityVirtual, Online

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Bio-inspiration
  • Cellular robots
  • Soft robotics
  • Surface friction


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