Soft-bodied animals, such as earthworms, are capable of contorting their body to squeeze through narrow spaces, create or enlarge burrows, and move on uneven ground. In many applications such as search and rescue, inspection of pipes and medical procedures, it may be useful to have a hollow-bodied robot with skin separating inside and outside. Textiles can be key to such skins. Inspired by earthworms, we developed two new robots: FabricWorm and MiniFabricWorm. We explored the application of fabric in soft robotics and how textile can be integrated along with other structural elements, such as three-dimensional (3D) printed parts, linear springs, and flexible nylon tubes. The structure of FabricWorm consists of one third the number of rigid pieces as compared to its predecessor Compliant Modular Mesh Worm-Steering (CMMWorm-S), while the structure of MiniFabricWorm consists of no rigid components. This article presents the design of such a mesh and its limitations in terms of structural softness. We experimentally measured the stiffness properties of these robots and compared them directly to its predecessors. FabricWorm and MiniFabricWorm are capable of peristaltic locomotion with a maximum speed of 33 cm/min (0.49 body-lengths/min) and 13.8 cm/min (0.25 body-lengths/min), respectively.
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