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A Parallel Modular Biomimetic Cilia Sorting Platform

Unconventional Computing Laboratory, University of the West of England, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Biomimetics 2018, 3(2), 5;
Received: 26 January 2018 / Revised: 28 February 2018 / Accepted: 22 March 2018 / Published: 30 March 2018
PDF [6385 KB, uploaded 3 May 2018]


The aquatic unicellular organism Paramecium caudatum uses cilia to swim around its environment and to graze on food particles and bacteria. Paramecia use waves of ciliary beating for locomotion, intake of food particles and sensing. There is some evidence that Paramecia pre-sort food particles by discarding larger particles, but intake the particles matching their mouth cavity. Most prior attempts to mimic cilia-based manipulation merely mimicked the overall action rather than the beating of cilia. The majority of massive-parallel actuators are controlled by a central computer; however, a distributed control would be far more true-to-life. We propose and test a distributed parallel cilia platform where each actuating unit is autonomous, yet exchanging information with its closest neighboring units. The units are arranged in a hexagonal array. Each unit is a tileable circuit board, with a microprocessor, color-based object sensor and servo-actuated biomimetic cilia actuator. Localized synchronous communication between cilia allowed for the emergence of coordinated action, moving different colored objects together. The coordinated beating action was capable of moving objects up to 4 cm/s at its highest beating frequency; however, objects were moved at a speed proportional to the beat frequency. Using the local communication, we were able to detect the shape of objects and rotating an object using edge detection was performed; however, lateral manipulation using shape information was unsuccessful. View Full-Text
Keywords: cilia; parallel actuator; Paramecia; sorting cilia; parallel actuator; Paramecia; sorting

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary materials

  • Supplementary File 1:

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  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Description: All the files required to reproduce and reprogram the cilia can be obtained, and are provided as open-source material on GitHub for anyone to use provided citations and credit are given where appropriate.

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Whiting, J.G.H.; Mayne, R.; Adamatzky, A. A Parallel Modular Biomimetic Cilia Sorting Platform. Biomimetics 2018, 3, 5.

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