Current robotic systems are limited and narrow in their use. After investing large sums of money into designing the mechanics of a robot, if it is damaged at a key point of function, the entire system becomes obsolete. This demonstrates the fragility of current robots. Centralized control and rigid movements facilitate conditions under which current robots are prone to damage.
The aim of our research is to create a system of modular robots without a consistent center of control that must work as a cohesive unit in order to move. Decentralized control makes a system of robots that is more resilient to damage. Previously done with two-dimensional “disk robots”, this swarm concept creates systems that are more responsive to environments and more capable of adapting to challenges that they face as they interact with the world.
Our modular takes this concept into the third dimension. Our spherical robots, or “SphereBots”, decrease and increase their radii, but with the effect of increasing and decreasing volume. Timing this expansion and contraction in a swarm of SphereBots would result in the movement of the entire unit. The goal of our research is to prove this concept.
Below are some of the iterations of the SphereBot design.
To run the radii actuation, a planetary gear system was created. This allowed for the expansion and contracting for a model sphere.