Conference paper

Self-assembly of mobile robots - From swarm-bot to super-mechano colony

Up to now, only a few collective or modular robot systems have proven capable of letting separate and autonomous units, or groups of units, self-assemble. In each case, ad hoc control algorithms have been developed. The aim of this paper is to show that a control algorithm for autonomous self-assembly can be ported from a source multi-robot platform (i.e., the swarm-bot system) to a different target multi-robot platform (i.e., a super-mechano colony system). Although there are substantial differences between the two robotic platforms, it is possible to qualitatively reproduce the functionality of the source platform on the target platform—the transfer neither requires modifications in the hardware nor an extensive redesign of the control. The results of a set of experiments demonstrate that a controller that was developed for the source platform lets robots of the target platform self-assemble with high reliability. Finally, we investigate mechanisms that control the patterns formed by autonomous self-assembly.

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