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Task-level Distributed Control for Robot Self-organization

Peter Osagie & Daniela Rus

modules exploring a maze
Four groups of modular robots exploring two different environments.

Problem Specification

We wish to develop distributed provably correct algorithms that allow a group of robots to self-organize for high-level tasks. We are interested in two classes of robots: self-reconfiguring robots which are physically connected teams and groups of mobile robots which are connected by communication.


Self-reconfiguring modular robotic systems posses many efficacious advantages over their counterpart systems. For instance, they have the eability to adapt to the environment and modify their functionality by altering shape. This makes them highly versatile and flexible. Furthermore, from a manufacturing point of view there is economy of scale.

Controling Groups

The challenges of centralized control increase as the number of units in the system grows. It is generally preferable to implement distributed control algorithms in such systems that are aggregated by a large number of units. There is also the pleasant effect of robustness and redundancy when the system does not rely on a single central unit.

Previous work has proved that it is possible to define a set of local rules that control locomotion, self-replication and recombination for self-reconfiguring modular robots[1]. We are now looking at the extensions of [2] where the modules in system are not constrained by being physically connected. Instead they have the means of global communication. These types of systems display swarm-like behaviours and challenges lie in overcoming planning, task allocation and communication among and within subgroups.


[1] Z. Butler, K. Kotay, D. Rus and K. Tomita. Generic Decentralized Control for a Class of Self-Reconfigurable Robots. In The Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pp. 809--816, 2002.

[2] Z. Butler, S. Murata and D. Rus. Distributed replication algorithms for self-reconfiguring modular robots. In Distributed Autonomous Robotic Systems 5, pp. 37--48, 2002

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