Manipulation and transport of objects using mobile robotic platforms is a well studied field with several successful approaches. The main difficulty while using such platforms is the lack of adaptation capabilities to changes in the environment and the restriction to flat working areas. In this paper, we present a novel manipulation and transport framework using the self-reconfigurable modular robots Roombots to collaboratively carry arbitrarily shaped passive elements in a non-regular 3D environment equipped with passive connectors. A hierarchical planner based on the notion of virtual kinematic chain is used to generate collision-free and hardware-friendly paths as well as sequences of collaborative manipulations. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first example of manipulation of fully passive elements in an arbitrary 3D environment using mobile self-reconfigurable robots. The simulated results show that the planner is robust to arbitrary complex environments with randomly distributed connectors. In addition to simulation results, a proof of concept of the manipulation of one passive element with two real Roombots meta-modules is described.
Looking for publications? You might want to consider searching on the EPFL Infoscience site which provides advanced publication search capabilities.
We present the hardware and reconfiguration experiments for an autonomous self-reconfigurable modular robot called Roombots (RB). RB were designed to form the basis for self-reconfigurable furniture. Each RB module contains three degrees of freedom that have been carefully selected to allow a single module to reach any position on a 2-dimensional grid and to overcome concave corners in a 3-dimensional grid. For the first time we demonstrate locomotion capabilities of single RB modules through reconfiguration with real hardware. The locomotion through reconfiguration is controlled by a planner combining the well-known D* algorithm and composed motor primitives. The novelty of our approach is the use of an online running hierarchical planner closely linked to the real hardware.