Lab Papers (GRASP)

Document Type

Journal Article

Subject Area


Date of this Version


Publication Source

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters



Bib Tex


title={Origami-inspired robot that swims via jet propulsion},

author={Zhiyuan Yang and Dongsheng Chen and David J. Levine and Cynthia Sung},

journal={IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters},





Underwater swimmers present unique opportunities for using bodily reconfiguration for self propulsion. Origami-inspired designs are low-cost, fast to fabricate, robust, and can be used to create compliant mechanisms useful in energy efficient underwater locomotion. In this paper, we demonstrate an origami-inspired robot that can change its body shape to ingest and expel water, creating a jet that propels it forward similarly to cephalopods. We use the magic ball origami pattern, which can transform between ellipsoidal (low volume) and spherical (high volume) shapes. A custom actuation mechanism contracts the robot to take in fluid, and the inherent mechanics of the magic ball returns the robot to its natural shape upon release. We describe the design and control of this robot and verify its locomotion in a water tank. The resulting robot is able to move forward at 6.7 cm/s (0.2 body lengths/s), with a cost of transport of 2.0.


soft robot, swimming robot, origami, mechanism design

Included in

Robotics Commons



Date Posted: 17 September 2021

This document has been peer reviewed.