Locomotion of Miniature Catom Chains: Scale Effects on Gait and Velocity

David Johan Christensen, Jason Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleResearchpeer-review


Scaling down the module size of a selfreconfigurable robot will have a profound effect on the module’s characteristics, e.g. strength to mass ratio. In this paper we explore how the characteristics of chains of modules, specifically locomotion velocity and best gait type, might change with the scale of those modules. The simulated experiments we report on here examine module sizes from (11μm to 698μm radius) and chain lengths from 3 to 30 modules. All gaits tested were based on central pattern generators optimized using a genetic algorithm and hill climbing. Our results show that scaling affects both the preferred type of gait as well as a chain’s overall performance (average velocity). In summary, there is a tradeoff where larger scales face the challenge of overcoming gravity, while smaller sizes face the challenge of staying in contact with the ground and the friction it provides. We show that in between these two extremes lies a “best” module size for given environmental, physical, and engineering constraints.
Keyword: Microrobots,Mobile robots,Interconnected systems,Self-adjusting systems,Motion control
Original languageEnglish
JournalI E E E International Conference on Robotics and Automation. Proceedings
Pages (from-to)2254-2260
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes
Event2007 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation - Rome, Italy
Duration: 10 Apr 200714 Apr 2007


Conference2007 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
Internet address


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