Self-assembly control and experiments in swarm modular robots

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This paper presents a self-assembly control strategy for the swarm modular robots. Simulated and physical experiments are conducted based on the Sambot platform, which is a novel self-assembly modular robot having the characteristics of both the chain-type and the mobile self-reconfigurable robots. Multiple Sambots can autonomously move and connect with one another through self-assembly to form robotic organisms. The configuration connection state table is used to describe the configuration of the robotic structure. A directional self-assembly control model is proposed to perform the self-assembly experiments. The self-assembly process begins with one Sambot as the seed, and then the Docking Sambots use a behavior-based controller to achieve connection with the seed Sambot. The controller is independent of the target configuration. The seed and connected Sambots execute a configuration comparison algorithm to control the growth of the robotic structure. Furthermore, the simultaneous self-assembly of multiple Sambots is discussed. For multiple configurations, self-assembly experiments are conducted in simulation platform and physical platform of Sambot. The experimental results verify the effectiveness and scalability of the self-assembly algorithms. © Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012.

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Science China Technological Sciences