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A Soft Deformable Amoeboid Robot Inspired by Plasmodium of True Slime Mold
Takuya Umedachi, Koichi Takeda, Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Ryo Kobayashi and Akio Ishiguro

This paper presents a soft-bodied amoeboid robot inspired by plasmodium of true slime mold. The significant features of this robot are twofold: (1) the robot has truly soft and deformable body stemming from periodically expanding and contracting real-time tunable springs and a balloon, the former is used for an outer skin of the body and the latter serves as protoplasm in order to induce long-distance physical interaction between the body parts; and (2) a fully decentralized control using coupled oscillators with completely local sensory feedback mechanism is realized by exploiting the long-distance physical interaction. Experimental results show that this robot exhibits truly supple locomotion without relying on any hierarchical structure. The results obtained are expected to shed new light on how autonomous decentralized control may be designed.

Keywords: Soft-bodied robot, decentralized control, sensory-motor coordination, local sensory feedback, biologically-inspired robot, real-time tunable spring, discrepancy function.

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