N.A. Pavlyuk – Research Scientist, St. Petersburg Institute for Informatics and Automation of RAS
P.A. Smirnov – Junior Research Scientist, St. Petersburg Institute for Informatics and Automation of RAS
A.D. Kovalev – Junior Research Scientist, St. Petersburg Institute for Informatics and Automation of RAS
Modular robotics ensures solving problems, related to autonomous robotic formation establishment; whereas such formations consist of homogeneous and heterogeneous robotic devices, collaboratively functioning in a common system and building formations of different shapes and sizes. Besides switching-related challenges it should be noted, that formations, obtained this way, are rarely put in practice, partly because of functional limitations of individual robotic devices, acting as modular units in such systems.
In this paper chaining principles and possibilities are researched for building of functional modular structures of homogeneous units. Current solutions and state of research in modular robotics domain are reviewed.
Within this research a robotic system was developed, which uses modular robotic MARS devices to obtain TriMod, Snake and HeadCrab formations. Modular robotic system MARS is developed as a set of homogeneous modular robotic devices with actuator, connecting and running gears. Running gear of a MRD is a wheelbase of two opposed omni-wheel pairs, running according to holonomic movement pattern. As a connection mechanism a three-way telescopic grip is used, acting particularly as a contact field in the end position. MRD actuator is essentially a manipulator with two degrees of freedom and it acts as the main actuating mechanism within the formation. The formations, consisting of autonomous devices, are developed regarding the requirement, that the obtained modular robotic system should move as a single robotic device.
The research outcomes, obtained in this work, provide for connection of ready robotic solutions, therefore increasing lifting capacity of MRDs, designed to be used in connection with other devices. The proposed design solutions allow to extract the control computing unit into a standalone pluggable device with a standard collection of interfaces for communication, power supply and switching. Therefore, the computing unit can be used independently and customize the computing power of the whole system if necessary. With such a system composition approach several basic units may be used in connection, to employ the robotic system in complex collaborative robotics scenarios.
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