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The robotic endoscope the advantage of active locomotion in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but lacks a suitable contact device to improve the locomotion efficiency and safety.This paper proposes a microgroove cushion for the robotic endoscope to improve its active locomotion ability in the GI tract. Coupons with different microgrooves were designed and tested to verify the contact efficiency of the grooves. Based on experimental investigations, uniform oblique grid grooves were suggested, because they could generate gteater friction than other proposed microgrooves on the intestinal surface. To improve the contact safety of the robotic endoscope, a cushion-type contact device was designed and fabricated. The microgroove cushion was tested under the use of a custom-built robot.An experiment in a rigid tube showed that the robot with cushion had a static friction 65% higher than the robot without cushion; an experiment in the in vitro colonic tract showed that the robot without the cushion produced a more obvious contact appearance than with the cushion. It can be seen that the microgroove cushion provides the robotic endoscope with efficient and safe contact ability.The microgroove cushion is a useful addition to the development of a contact device for the robotic endoscope in the GI tract, although requiring further improvements. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.