A self-reconfigurable modular robot: Reconfiguration planning and experiments

Eiichi Yoshida, Satoshi Murata, Akiya Kamimura, Kohji Tomita, Haruhisa Kurokawa, Shigeru Kokaji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we address a reconfiguration planning method for locomotion of a homogeneous modular robotic system and we conduct an experiment to verify that the planned locomotion can be realized by hardware. Our recently developed module is self-reconfigurable. A group of the modules can thus generate various three-dimensional robotic structures and motions. Although the module itself is a simple mechanism, self-reconfiguration planning for locomotion presents a computationally difficult problem due to the many combinatorial possibilities of modular configurations. In this paper, we develop a two-layered planning method for locomotion of a class of regular structures. This locomotion mode is based on multi-module blocks. The upper layer plans the overall cluster motion called flow to realize locomotion along a given desired trajectory; the lower layer determines locally cooperative module motions, called motion schemes, based on a rule database. A planning simulation demonstrates that this approach effectively solves the complicated planning problem. Besides the fundamental motion capacity of the module, the hardware feasibility of the planning locomotion is verified through a self-reconfiguration experiment using the prototype modules we have developed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-915
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
Issue number10-11
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Experimental robotics
  • Hierarchical planner
  • Modular robotics
  • Planning
  • Self-reconfigurable robot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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