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A platform for studying locomotion systems: modular self reconfigurable robots

 

There are many fundamentally different mechanical motions that a system can use to achieve locomotion. Two standard examples are the wheels on a car or the legs of an artificial ant, but many others exist as well. As with all systems, there is an obvious desire to quantify how "well" each locomotion method performs. Unfortunately, as with many metrics, this is far from being a well-defined problem. Apart from the usual difficulty of deciding exactly what is the most important measure (peak speed, efficiency, etc), there is the question of divorcing the underlying locomotive concept from the particular implementation. This paper proposes a particular platform which the authors believe can be used as part of a standard system for evaluating many different means of locomotion. Since one of the fundamentally different aspects of each of these locomotive methods is the underlying mechanism, then any standard platform must be capable of changing its shape and fashion of moving so as to be able to faithfully perform the locomotion to be tested. The PolyBot system, developed at PARC, is capable of just this.

 
citation

Zhang, Y. ; Eldershaw, C. ; Yim, M. H. ; Roufas, K. D. ; Duff, D. G. A platform for studying locomotion systems: modular self reconfigurable robots. NIST Workshop on Performance Metrics for Intelligent Systems (PerMIS '02); 2002 August 13-15; Gaithersburg; MD; USA.