SnailBot: A Continuously Dockable Modular Self-Reconfigurable Robot Using Rocker-Bogie Suspension

This paper proposes a novel modular self-assembling, self-reconfiguring robot with the 3D continuous dock called "SnailBot". SnailBot mainly consists of a spherical ferromagnetic shell and a six-wheel rocker chassis with embedded magnets. Unlike many other existing modular self-reconfigurable robots with fixed docking locations, SnailBot uses the 3D continuous dock to attach to its peers regardless of alignment. This freeform docking mechanism can greatly improve the efficiency of self-reconfiguration and reduce docking failures because there is nearly no constraint in the location of the connector. Compared with the existing freeform MSRR, SnailBot can form a more structurally stable connection to its peers without loss of connection efficiency. Owing to the excellent obstacle crossing ability of the rocker-bogie suspension, the robot can freely crawl on other modules in the form of a sliding sphere. Experiments demonstrate the basic actions of a single module and some applications of SnailBots, such as a manipulator.

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