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Presents a biologically inspired approach to two basic problems in modular self-reconfigurable robots: adaptive communication in self-reconfigurable and dynamic networks, and distributed collaboration between the physically coupled modules to accomplish global effects such as locomotion and reconfiguration. Inspired by the biological concept of hormone, the paper develops the adaptive communication (AC) protocol that enables modules continuously to discover changes in their local topology, and the adaptive distributed control (ADC) protocol that allows modules to use hormone-like messages in collaborating their actions to accomplish locomotion and self-reconfiguration. These protocols are implemented and evaluated, and experiments in the CONRO self-reconfigurable robot and in a Newtonian simulation environment have shown that the protocols are robust and scaleable when configurations change dynamically and unexpectedly, and they can support online reconfiguration, module-level behavior shifting, and locomotion. The paper also discusses the implication of the hormone-inspired approach for distributed multiple robots and self-reconfigurable systems in general.
Date of Publication: Oct 2002