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A Hybrid and Extendable Self-Reconfigurable Modular Robotic System

Parrott, Christopher (2016) A Hybrid and Extendable Self-Reconfigurable Modular Robotic System. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Modular robotics has the potential to transform the perception of robotic systems from machines built for specific tasks to multi-purpose tools capable of performing virtually any task. This thesis presents the design, implementation and study of a new self-reconfigurable modular robotic system for use as a research and education platform. The system features a high-speed genderless connector (HiGen), a hybrid module (HyMod), an extensions framework, and a control architecture. The HiGen connector features inter-module communication and is able to join with other HiGen connectors in a manner that allows either side to disconnect in the event of failure. The rapid actuation of HiGen allows connections to be made and broken at a speed that is, to our knowledge, an order of magnitude faster than existing mechanical genderless approaches that feature single-sided disconnect, benefiting the self-reconfiguration time of modular robots. HyMod is a chain, lattice, and mobile hybrid modular robot, consisting of a spherical joint unit that is capable of moving independently and grouping with other units to form arbitrary cubic lattice structures. HyMod is the first module, to our knowledge, that combines efficient single-module locomotion, enabling self-assembly, with the ability for modules to freely rotate within their lattice positions, aiding the self-reconfigurability of large structures. The extension framework is used to augment the capabilities of HyMod units. Extensions are modules that feature specialized functionality, and interface with HyMod units via passive HiGen connectors, allowing them to be un-powered until required for a task. Control of the system is achieved using a software architecture. Based on message routing, the architecture allows for the concurrent use of both centralized and distributed module control strategies. An analysis of the system is presented, and experiments conducted to demonstrate its capabilities. Future versions of the system created by this thesis could see uses in reconfigurable manufacturing, search and rescue, and space exploration.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Modular, Robotics, Self-Reconfigurable
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Engineering (Sheffield) > Automatic Control and Systems Engineering (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Mr Christopher Parrott
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2017 13:26
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2018 01:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/16759

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