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Self-assembling modular robotic structures

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1 Author(s)
Howe, A.S. ; NASA Jet Propulsion Lab., Pazadena

Cellular automata in the two-dimensional (2-D) world have been used to simulate self-replicating structures based on natural biological systems, evolution, and emergence. In self-replication, large structures consisting of multiple cells are programmed to make copies of themselves using the rule-based systems upon which the cellular automata are governed. Although cellular automata environments are computer-based tools for representing complex systems within a virtual world, the field of modular robotics partly came about as an attempt to create self-relocatable cuboids that could function as cellular automata in the three-dimensional (3-D) real world to create physical self-replicating systems. The application of cellular automata to 3-D real-world applications has resulted in lattice-type modular robotic systems. Lattice systems are cubical in nature, where each cube is a self-mobile unit that can move orthogonally to a vacant position by sliding along existing portions of structure. These lattice-type modular robotics systems have been used to study self-reconfigurability in the real world with autonomous elements.

Published in:

Robotics & Automation Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:14 ,  Issue: 4 )