I(CES)-Cubes: A Modular Self-Reconfigurable Bipartite Robotic System
In this manuscript, we introduce I(CES)-Cubes, a class of three-dimensional modular robotic system that is capable of reconfiguring itself in order to adapt to its environment. This is a bipartite system, i.e., a collection of (i) active elements capable of actuation, and (ii) passive elements acting as connectors between actuated elements. Active elements, called links, are 3-DOF manipulators that are capable of attaching/detaching themselves to/from the passive elements (cubes). The cubes can then be positioned and oriented using links, which are independent mechatronic elements. Self-reconfiguration property enables the system to perform locomotion tasks over difficult terrain. For example, the system would be capable of moving over obstacles and climbing stairs. These tasks are performed by positioning and orienting cubes and links to form a three-dimensional network with required shape and position. This paper describes the design of the passive and active elements, the attachment mechanisms, and several reconfiguration scenarios. Specifics of the hardware implementation and results of experiments with current prototypes are also given.