Locomotion means the act or ability of something to transport or move from place to place. To locomote, all animals require both propulsive and control mechanisms. The diverse propulsive mechanisms of animals involve a contractile structure muscle in most cases to generate a propulsive force. The quantity, quality, and position of contractions are initiated and coordinated by the nervous system: through this coordination, rhythmic movements of the appendages or body movement.
- Animal movement
- Terrestrial locomotion
- Aquatic movement
- Gait analysis
- Protist locomotion
- Robot locomotion
Animals successfully occupy a majority of the vast number of different physical environments on Earth; in a discussion of movement, however, these environments can be divided into four types: aerial (including arboreal), aquatic, fossorial (underground), and terrestrial. The physical restraints to movement gravity and drag are the same in each environment: they differ only in degree. Gravity is here considered as the weight and inertia of a body, drag as any force reducing movement. Although these are not the definitions of a physicist, they are adequate for a general understanding of the forces that impede animal movement.
The study of locomotion informs many areas of science, medicine, and technology. The mechanisms of locomotion may be applied in biomimetics, the development of human-made processes, substances, devices, or systems that imitate nature. In robotics, for example, designers imitate human movement to create life-like androids.
Locomotion is also an important area of endeavor in video game art and design and virtual reality (VR). Creating realistic locomotion for digital content requires an understanding of how that movement is accomplished and what it looks like in the physical world. In VR gaming, movement usually refers to systems that allow the user to navigate through the virtual environment.
It is generally categorized according to one of four types of environment: terrestrial (on the earth), aerial (in the air), aquatic (in the water), or fossorial. Types of animal movements include walking, running, crawling, rolling, flying, climbing, swimming, skipping, and jumping.