FreeBOT: A Freeform Modular Self-Reconfigurable Robot with Arbitrary Connection Point

This paper proposes a novel modular self-reconfigurable robot (MSRR) “FreeBOT”, which can be connected freely at any point on other robots. FreeBOT is mainly composed of two parts: a spherical ferromagnetic shell and an internal magnet. The connection between the modules is genderless and instant, since the internal magnet can freely attract other FreeBOT spherical ferromagnetic shells, and not need to be precisely aligned with the specified connector. This connection method has fewer physical constraints, so the FreeBOT system can be extended to more configurations to meet more functional requirements. FreeBOT can accomplish multiple tasks although it only has two motors: module independent movement, connector management and system reconfiguration. FreeBOT can move independently on the plane, and even climb on ferromagnetic walls; a group of FreeBOTs can traverse complex terrain. Numerous experiments have been conducted to test its function, which shows that the FreeBOT system has great potential to realize a freeform robotic system.

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