GSoC Project Idea 16.5: Educational C. elegans robot kit



Description: Educational outreach is an aim of the OpenWorm project. Leveraging the prevalent emphasis on cross-discipline learning in schools, we propose to specify a kit that will allow a student to construct and program a robot inspired by the nematode C. elegans that embodies basic features of the worm. Two versions of the robot have been partially created, and what is needed is someone who can help move the project toward the finish line. This could take the form of designing a user interface to program/control the robot, or replicating the robot and making improvements to it, or formalizing instructions on how to build it. There is a lot of work to do! But of course it is always beneficial for the kit to be within the budgets of schools.

Aims: The body of C. elegans moves in an undulating snake-like fashion by rhythmically contracting muscles along the length of the body under the control of motor neurons. Here is a video of the first version of the robot controlled using Raspberry Pi:

Currently we are equipping the robot to be able to sense “food” in its environment with a distance sensor. There are opportunities to make novel contributions and improvements to the project codebase:

Skills: Familiarity with robot construction is desirable, but not necessary. Experience with an ESP32 micro-python processor would similarly be useful. Good communication skills and dedication to delivering a good product are always needed.

Mentor: Tom Portegys (