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Title: Self-reconfigurable multilegged robot swarms collectively accomplish challenging terradynamic tasks
Swarms of ground-based robots are presently limited to relatively simple environments, which we attribute in part to the lack of locomotor capabilities needed to traverse complex terrain. To advance the field of terradynamically capable swarming robotics, inspired by the capabilities of multilegged organisms, we hypothesize that legged robots consisting of reversibly chainable modular units with appropriate passive perturbation management mechanisms can perform diverse tasks in variable terrain without complex control and sensing. Here, we report a reconfigurable swarm of identical low-cost quadruped robots (with directionally flexible legs and tail) that can be linked on demand and autonomously. When tasks become terradynamically challenging for individuals to perform alone, the individuals suffer performance degradation. A systematic study of performance of linked units leads to new discoveries of the emergent obstacle navigation capabilities of multilegged robots. We also demonstrate the swarm capabilities through multirobot object transport. In summary, we argue that improvement capabilities of terrestrial swarms of robots can be achieved via the judicious interaction of relatively simple units.  more » « less
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Science Robotics
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National Science Foundation
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