This research investigates the rectilinear locomotion of a meta-structural robot inspired by the earthworm. First of all, an equivalent multi-segment model of the meta-structural locomotion robot is derived. By the method of averaging, the robot’s average steady-state velocity is obtained, which is a function of the phase differences among segments. Then a novel locomotion control scheme of adjusting actuation phases is proposed for the robot. It is shown that such control of the phase differences among actuators can significantly tailor not only the magnitude but also the direction of the robot’s average steady-state velocity. Locomotion tests with equal phase difference among segments are carried out on the robot prototype in a horizontal pipe. The predicted phase-velocity relationship is verified, and it is shown that the proposed control is more effective than the more traditional peristaltic locomotion gaits. The presented earthworm-like robot belongs to the general class of metastructures, the concept of synthesizing adaptive structures via modular element design and integration. This study lays the foundation for understanding and advancing the properties of such meta-structural locomotion robots.

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