BoxyBot: a fish robot capable of swimming and crawling

We have designed and constructed an amphibious fish robot capable of swimming and crawling. The goal of the project is two-fold: (1) the robot serves as test-bed for our locomotion controllers based on systems of coupled nonlinear oscillators (CPGs) and (2) the robot is used in an interactive exhibition at EPFL, the Forum Decouvertes. The robot is constructed using the same elements as our salamander robot Salamandra robotica.

The control architecture of the robot is constructed around a central pattern generator (CPG) implemented as a system of coupled nonlinear oscillators, which, like its biological counterpart, can produce coordinated patterns of rhythmic activity while being modulated by simple control parameters. Using the CPG model, the robot is capable of performing and switching between a variety of different locomotor behaviors such as swimming forwards, swimming backwards, turning, rolling, moving upwards/downwards, and crawling. These behaviors are triggered and modulated by sensory input provided by light, contact, and water sensors.

People involved: Ariane Pasquier, Daisy Lachat, Sacha Contantinescu, Alessandro Crespi, André Guignard, André Badertscher



  • A. Crespi, D. Lachat, A. Pasquier, and A. J. Ijspeert. Controlling swimming and crawling in a fish robot using a central pattern generator. Autonomous Robots, 25(1-2):3-13, 2008.
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  • D. Lachat, A. Crespi, and A. J. Ijspeert. BoxyBot: a swimming and crawling fish robot controlled by a central pattern generator. In Proceedings of The first IEEE / RAS-EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob 2006), 2006.
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