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  1. Ani Hsieh (Ed.)
    Reconfigurable modular robots can dynamically assemble/disassemble to accomplish the desired task better. Magnetic modular cubes are scalable modular subunits with embedded permanent magnets in a 3D-printed cubic body and can be wirelessly controlled by an external, uniform, timevarying magnetic field. This paper considers the problem of self-assembling these modules into desired 2D polyomino shapes using such magnetic fields. Although the applied magnetic field is the same for each magnetic modular cube, we use collisions with workspace boundaries to rearrange the cubes. We present a closed-loop control method for self-assembling the magnetic modular cubes into polyomino shapes, using computer vision-based feedback with re-planning. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed closed-loop control improves the success rate of forming 2D user-specified polyominoes compared to an open-loop baseline. We also demonstrate the validity of the approach over changes in length scales, testing with both 10mm edge length cubes and 2.8mm edge length cubes. 
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  2. Abstract This paper seeks to design, develop, and explore the locomotive dynamics and morphological adaptability of a bacteria-inspired rod-like soft robot propelled in highly viscous Newtonian fluids. The soft robots were fabricated as tapered, hollow rod-like soft scaffolds by applying a robust and economic molding technique to a polyacrylamide-based hydrogel polymer. Cylindrical micro-magnets were embedded in both ends of the soft scaffolds, which allowed bending (deformation) and actuation under a uniform rotating magnetic field. We demonstrated that the tapered rod-like soft robot in viscous Newtonian fluids could perform two types of propulsion; boundary rolling was displayed when the soft robot was located near a boundary, and swimming was displayed far away from the boundary. In addition, we performed numerical simulations to understand the swimming propulsion along the rotating axis and the way in which this propulsion is affected by the soft robot’s design, rotation frequency, and fluid viscosity. Our results suggest that a simple geometrical asymmetry enables the rod-like soft robot to perform propulsion in the low Reynolds number ( Re ≪ 1) regime; these promising results provide essential insights into the improvements that must be made to integrate the soft robots into minimally invasive in vivo applications. 
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  3. This paper demonstrates a manipulation of snowman-shaped soft microrobots under a uniform rotating magnetic field. Each microsnowman robot consists of two biocompatible alginate microspheres with embedded magnetic nanoparticles. The soft microsnowmen were fabricated using a microfluidic device by following a centrifuge-based microfluidic droplet method. Under a uniform rotating magnetic field, the microsnowmen were rolled on the substrate surface, and the velocity response for increasing magnetic field frequencies was analyzed. Then, a microsnowman was rolled to follow different paths, which demonstrated directional controllability of the microrobot. Moreover, swarms of microsnowmen and single alginate microrobots were manipulated under the rotating magnetic field, and their velocity responses were analyzed for comparison. 
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  4. This paper examines a family of designs for magnetic cubes and counts how many configurations are possible for each design as a function of the number of modules. Magnetic modular cubes are cubes with magnets arranged on their faces. The magnets are positioned so that each face has either magnetic south or north pole outward. Moreover, we require that the net magnetic moment of the cube passes through the center of opposing faces. These magnetic arrangements enable coupling when cube faces with opposite polarity are brought in close proximity and enable moving the cubes by controlling the orientation of a global magnetic field. This paper investigates the 2D and 3D shapes that can be constructed by magnetic modular cubes, and describes all possible magnet arrangements that obey these rules. We select ten magnetic arrangements and assign a "color" to each of them for ease of visualization and reference. We provide a method to enumerate the number of unique polyominoes and polycubes that can be constructed from a given set of colored cubes. We use this method to enumerate all arrangements for up to 20 modules in 2D and 16 modules in 3D. We provide a motion planner for 2D assembly and through simulations compare which arrangements require fewer movements to generate and which arrangements are more common. Hardware demonstrations explore the self-assembly and disassembly of these modules in 2D and 3D. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
  6. null (Ed.)
    The modular assembly and actuation of 3D prin- ted milliscale cuboid robots using a globally applied magnetic field is presented. Cuboids are composed of a rectangular resin shell embedded with two spherical permanent magnets that can independently align with any applied magnetic field. Placing cuboids within short distances of each other allows for modular assembly and disassembly by changing magnetic field direction. Assembled cuboids are demonstrated to stably self-propel under sequential field inputs allowing for both rolling and pivot walking motion modes. Swarms of cuboids could be actuated within the working space and exhibit near identical behavior. Specialized ‘trap robots’ were developed to capture objects, transport them within the working space, and subsequently release the payload in a new location. Cuboids with male and female connectors were developed to exhibit the selective mating between cuboids. The results show that cuboids are a diverse and adaptable platform that has the potential to be scaled down to the sub-millimeter regime for use in medical or small-scale assembly applications. 
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  7. This paper presents 2D feedback control and open loop 3D trajectories of heterogeneous chemically catalyzing Janus particles. Self-actuated particles have enormous implications for both in vivo and in vitro environments, which make them a diverse resource for a variety of medical and assembly applications. Janus particles, consisting of cobalt and platinum hemispheres, can self-propel in hydrogen peroxide solutions due to platinum’s catalyzation properties. These particles are directionally controlled using static magnetic fields produced from a triaxial approximate Helmholtz coil system. Since the magnetization direction of Janus particles is often heterogeneous, and thereby not consistent with the propulsion direction, this creates a unique opportunity to explore the motion effects of these particles under 2D feedback control and open loop 3D control. Using a modified closed loop controller, Janus particles with magnetization both closely aligned and greatly misaligned to the propulsion vectors, were instructed to perform complex trajectories. These trajectories were then compared between trials to measure both consistency and accuracy. The effects of increasing offset between the magnetization and propulsion vectors were also analyzed. The effects this heterogeneity had on 3D motion is also briefly discussed. It is our hope going forward to develop a 3D closed loop control system that can retroactively account for variations in the magnetization vector. 
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