Design, Analysis, Planning, and Control of a Novel Modular Self-Reconfigurable Robotic System
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This dissertation describes the design, analysis, planning, and control of a self-reconfigurable modular robotic system. The proposed robotic system mainly contains three major types of robotic modules: load carrier, manipulation module, and locomotion module. Each module is capable of navigation and interaction with the environment individually. In addition, the robotic system is proposed to reassemble autonomously into various configurations to perform complex tasks such as humanoid configuration to enable enhanced functionality to reconfigure into a configuration that would enable the system to cross over a ditch. A non-back drivable active docking mechanism with two Degrees of Freedom (DOFs) was designed to fit into the tracked units of the robot modules for achieveing the reconfiguration. The quantity and location of the docking mechanisms are customizable and selectable to satisfy various mission requirements and adapt to different environments. During the reconfiguration process, the target coupling mechanism of each module reconfigurable with each other autonomously. A Lyapunov function-based precision controller was developed to align the target docking mechanisms in a close range and high precision for assembling the robot modules autonomously into other configurations. Additionally, an trajectory optimization algorithm was developed to help the robot determine when to switch the locomotion modes and find the fastest path to the destination with the desired pose.
General Audience Abstract
Though the capabilities of individual robot platforms have advanced greatly from their original rigid construction to more modern reconfigurable platforms, it is still difficult to build a singular platform capable of adapting to all situations and environments that users may want or need it to function in. To help improve the versatility of robot systems, modular robots have become an active area of research. These modular robotic systems are made up of multiple robotic platforms capable of docking together, breaking apart, or otherwise reconfiguring to form a multitude of shapes to overcome and adapt to many diverse challenges and environments. This dissertation describes the design of a new modular robotic system with autonomous docking and reconfiguration. Existing technologies and motivations for the creation of a new modular robotic system are covered. Then the physical design, with a primary focus on the docking mechanism, is reviewed. A validation of the proposed robotic system in a virtual environment with real physical properties is demonstrated. Following this, the development of a Lyapunov function-based controller to autonomously align the docking mechanisms is presented. The overall docking process was also preliminarily verified using a prototype of a locomotion module and an active docking mechanism. In addition, the trajectory optimization and tracking methods are presented in the end.
- Doctoral Dissertations