A crawling paper robot for the detection of landmines or the exploration of Mars

... or your living room

The goal of the C-Turtle project is to develop cheap robots made from paper and let each robot adapt its (crawling) motion by the use of reinforcement learning. By using lasercutting and lamination as manufacturing methods, a fully functioning robot can be deployed in under a day with an optimal movement strategy for each robot and environment.

Manufacturing the main body of the C-Turtle requires a laser cutter and a heating press or iron. Horns, which connect the motors with the paper are created by a 3D printer. 3D printing the horns takes as much time as manufacturing all the other parts!

A locomotion strategy for the C-Turtle was learned with a reinforcement learning method both in the lab and in a desert environment. The used method, Group Factor Policy Search, requires only few executions to uncover an optimized movement strategy. The learning process takes usually about one hour of time.

Resources & Material

The cut files for C-Turtle of the newest turtle version are downloadable here (Version 1.0). The zip contains a readme with information about the manufacturing process.

These files are distributed under a CC BY license, so feel free to make changes or produce your own CTurtle.

CAD/Cut files are licensed with a Creative Commons

Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

This paper is published on Arxiv and can be found here. It will was presented on the Robotics: Science and Systems Conference at MIT this July. Find the poster here and a video of the presentation here.

title={From the Lab to the Desert: Fast Prototyping and Learning of Robot Locomotion},
author={Luck, Kevin Sebastian and Campbell, Joseph and Jansen, Michael Andrew and Aukes, Daniel M. and Ben Amor, Heni},
booktitle={Robotics: Science and Systems},

This paper will be presented on the Living Machines Conference at Stanford this June.

Find a pdf here.

  title={Bio-inspired Robot Design Considering Load-bearing and Kinematic Ontogeny of Chelonioidea Sea Turtles},
  author={Jansen, Andrew and Luck, Kevin Sebastian and Campbell, Joseph and Ben Amor, Heni and Aukes, Daniel M.},
  booktitle={Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems},

You want to design your own folded robots?

Try out the popupCAD program of the IDEAlab!

Press & Media

If you want to present this research on your Website, Blog, Televison Show, Newspaper etc., feel free to use these images which are licensed under a CC BY license (free to use as long as you give us credit, see the readme). The Arizona State University media team published an article describing the high-level goals of this research and the overall vision. Sending us a link to your content would be appreciated!

The Team behind C-Turtle

Kevin S. Luck

Kevin is a PhD student in the Interactive Robotics Lab. He lets the CTurtle learn to adapt to the environment.

Michael A. Jansen

Andrew is a PhD student in the Biology Department. He is the main head behind the design of the CTurtle and the form of the fins.

Joseph Campbell

Joe is a PhD student in the Interactive Robotics Lab. He made the automatic learning processes possible with his mastery of robotics.

Daniel M. Aukes

Prof. Daniel Aukes leads the IDEAlab at Arizona State University. He and his lab provided the manufacturing infrastructure and know-how of (paper) laminate manufacturing.

Heni Ben Amor

Prof. Heni Ben Amor leads the Interactive Robotics lab at Arizona State University. He and his lab provided the robotic infrastructure and know-how of reinforcement learning processes.


CTurtle is the result of an ongoing interdisciplinary project of researchers from the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, The Polytechnic School and The School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University.