SMORES-EP

A modular robotics project that can shape shift in order to explore a variety of terrains.

Specifications

Length90 mm
Width 100 mm
Depth100 mm
Module weight 0.52 kg
Wheel Speed (No Load)23 RPM
Pan Speed (No Load)23 RPM
Tilt Speed (No Load)23 RPM
Maximum Land SpeedBody Length/s
Wheel Torque1.2 Nm
Pan Torque1.4 Nm
Tilt Torque2.3 Nm
Static Module Power Dissipation1.7 W(9V)
Degrees of freedom (DOF) 4 Nm
ProcessorMBED microcontroller based on NXP LPC1768 processo
32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 core running at 96MHz.
Motors5 298:1 gear reduced High Powered Micro Motors
Costs<300$

Overview

SMORES-EP modules have four degrees of freedom (pan, tilt, and left/right wheels). The left and right wheels have rubber tired, and allows the module to drive like a car on flat surfaces. Each module has its own battery, and communicates with a central computer over 802.11 WiFi. So far, 24 modules have been built.

Each of the four faces of the module is equipped with an array of electro-permanent (EP) magnets that can form a strong connection with other modules, or with metal objects. Each EP magnet consist of an electromagnet coil wrapped around a pair of permanent magnet cores, and can be turned on and off by sending a pulse of current through the coil. With the magnets turned on, a connected modules sustain a holding force of 89 Newtons with no power consumption – they only require power when connecting and disconnecting. SMORES-EP modules communicate with one another by exploiting the inductive coupling of the magnets, essentially using them as short-range radios.

SMORES stands for Self-Assembling Modular Robot for Extreme Shapeshifting, and EP refers to the Electro-Permanent magnets the modules use to connect.

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References

Provides a detailed description of the Smores-EP project; its goal, requirements, and design approach. Furthermore, a detailed description of the mechanical design & features, and specifications.

J Davey, N Kwok, M Yim - IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, October 2012.

Describes an integrated system for addressing high-level tasks with modular robots, and demonstrates that it is capable of accomplishing challenging, multi-part tasks in hardware experiments.

G Jing · T Tosun · M Yim, et al. - Article in Autonomous Robots, December 2017.

Presents the connector design as well as the manufacturing processes and compares its performance with existing connector designs. Describes fixtures used to construct hundreds of EP magnets. Characterizes the connector through experiments and discuss results, future work and conclude.

T Tosun, J Davey, C Liu, et al. - IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Oktober 2016.

Describes a system enabling a modular robot to autonomously build structures in order to accomplish high-level tasks. Building structures allow the robot to surmount large obstacles. This paper presents the hardware, perception, and planning tools that comprise this system.

T Tosun, J Daudelin, G Jing, et al. - Article, October 2017.

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