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Chain modular robots form systems with many degrees of freedom which are capable of being reconfigured to form arbitrary chain-based topologies. This reconfiguration requires the detaching of modules from one point in the system and reattaching at another. The internal errors in the system (especially with large numbers of modules) are such that accurate movement of chain ends, required for the attaching of modules, can be extremely difficult. A three-phase docking process is described that utilizes both open- and closed-loop techniques. This process has been shown to work with an early version. Issues raised during this testing have been addressed in a later version. Discussion of these issues, their solutions, and preliminary results of the testing the latest version are given.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2002