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Automatic locomotion design and experiments for a Modular robotic system

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6 Author(s)
Kamimura, A. ; Nat. Inst. of Adv. Ind. Sci. & Technol., Ibaraki, Japan ; Kurokawa, H. ; Yoshida, E. ; Murata, S.
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This paper presents a design method and experiments for whole-body locomotion by a modular robot. There are two types of locomotion for modular robots: a repeating self-reconfiguration and whole-body motion such as walking or crawling. For whole-body locomotion, designing a control method is more difficult than for ordinary robots because a modular robotic system can form various configurations, each of which has many degrees of freedom. This study proposes a unified framework for automatically designing an efficient locomotion controller suitable for any module configuration. The method utilizes neural oscillators (central pattern generators, CPGs), each of which works as a distributed joint controller of each module, and a genetic algorithm to optimize the CPG network. We verified the method by software simulations and hardware experiments, in which our modular robotic system, named M-TRAN II, performed stable and effective locomotion in various configurations.

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Mechatronics, IEEE/ASME Transactions on  (Volume:10 ,  Issue: 3 )