Soft-bodied amoeba-inspired robot that switches between qualitatively different behaviors with decentralized stiffness control

Takuya Umedachi, Kentaro Ito, Akio Ishiguro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The goal of this research is to understand the underlying mechanism of the behavioral diversity of animals and then use the findings to build truly adaptive robots. Behavioral diversity is an inherent feature of all animals, and it is also important for robots to perform adaptively in unknown and dynamically changing environments. This feature enables animals to select adaptive behavior from among versatile behaviors. However, most designers have avoided or ignored behavioral diversity while constructing artificial systems, with the aim of achieving highly optimized performance in specific environments for given tasks; this leads to vulnerability of these systems to environmental changes. To understand how behavioral diversity can be embedded into artificial systems, we focus on a large amoeba-like unicellular organism, i.e., the plasmodium of true slime mold (Physarum polycephalum), in this study. Despite the absence of a central nervous system, the plasmodium exhibits various types of locomotion (i.e., exploratory, taxis, and escape behaviors) and switches its behavior depending on the environment. Inspired by this primitive yet intelligent living organism, we build a modular robot that exhibits exploratory and taxis locomotions, and spontaneously switches between them in a fully decentralized manner according to the situation encountered. The results are expected to shed new light on a design scheme for life-like robots that exhibit amazingly versatile and adaptive behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
JournalAdaptive Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Apr 18


  • Behavioral diversity
  • biologically inspired robot
  • decentralized control
  • soft-bodied robot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Artificial Intelligence


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