Foundations Of Cognitive Science


The Wormeostat is a robot described by Dawson, Dupuis, and Wilson (2010). It consists of four Lego motors that are attached together to form a short chain. Each of the motors runs independently; if the motor detects that it has rotated a certain amount in one direction, then it attempts to rotate back in the opposite direction to maintain its position. The motors do not communicate with one another directly through a program, but can affect other motors via their physical connection. If the chain of motors is laid on the floor and the robot's program is started, then the Wormeostat will remain still. However, if one of the motors is slightly jostled by an external force, then the Wormeostat will begin to move and propel itself forward by means of a snake-like locomotion.

The purpose of the Wormeostat is to demonstrate that under proper conditions feedback amongst simple components can produce complex behavior like locomotion. The Wormeostat is also a translation of the Homeostat that was described by Ashby (1960) from the domain of electrical signals into the domain of mechanical interactions. Like the Homeostat, the Wormeostat struggles to maintain as stable a configuration as possible, and this struggle produces interesting behavior provided that the Wormeostat is embedded in an interesting environment.


  1. Ashby, W. R. (1960). Design For A Brain (Second Edition). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
  2. Dawson, M.R.W., Dupuis, B., & Wilson, M. (2010).  From Bricks To Brains: The Embodied Cognitive Science of LEGO Robots.  Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.

(Added April 2010)