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Towards a sustainable modular robot system for planetary exploration

S. G. M Hossain, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This thesis investigates multiple perspectives of developing an unmanned robotic system suited for planetary terrains. In this case, the unmanned system consists of unit-modular robots. This type of robot has potential to be developed and maintained as a sustainable multi-robot system while located far from direct human intervention. Some characteristics that make this possible are: the cooperation, communication and connectivity among the robot modules, flexibility of individual robot modules, capability of self-healing in the case of a failed module and the ability to generate multiple gaits by means of reconfiguration. To demonstrate the effects of high flexibility of an individual robot module, multiple modules of a four-degree-of-freedom unit-modular robot were developed. The robot was equipped with a novel connector mechanism that made self-healing possible. Also, design strategies included the use of series elastic actuators for better robot-terrain interaction. In addition, various locomotion gaits were generated and explored using the robot modules, which is essential for a modular robot system to achieve robustness and thus successfully navigate and function in a planetary environment. To investigate multi-robot task completion, a biomimetic cooperative load transportation algorithm was developed and simulated. Also, a liquid motion-inspired theory was developed consisting of a large number of robot modules. This can be used to traverse obstacles that inevitably occur in maneuvering over rough terrains such as in a planetary exploration. Keywords: Modular robot, cooperative robots, biomimetics, planetary exploration, sustainability.

Subject Area

Computer Engineering|Mechanical engineering|Planetology|Robotics

Recommended Citation

Hossain, S. G. M, "Towards a sustainable modular robot system for planetary exploration" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3618762.