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Controlling Modular Reconfigurable Robots With Handheld Smart Devices

[+] Author Affiliations
David Ko, Nalaka Kahawatte, Harry H. Cheng

University of California, Davis, CA

Paper No. DETC2011-48415, pp. 847-855; 9 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 3: 2011 ASME/IEEE International Conference on Mechatronic and Embedded Systems and Applications, Parts A and B
  • Washington, DC, USA, August 28–31, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5480-8
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Highly reconfigurable modular robots face unique teleoperation challenges due to their geometry, configurability, high number of degrees of freedom and complexity. Current methodology for controlling reconfigurable modular robots typically use gait tables to control the modules. Gait tables are static data structures and do not readily support realtime teleoperation. Teleoperation techniques for traditional wheeled, flying, or submerged robots typically use a set of joysticks to control the robots. However, these traditional methods of robot teleoperation are not suitable for reconfigurable modular robotic systems which may have dozens of controllable degrees of freedom. This research shows that modern cell phones serve as highly effective control platforms for modular robots because of their programmability, flexibility, wireless communication capabilities, and increased processing power. As a result of this research, a versatile Graphical User Interface, a set of libraries and tools have been developed which even a novice robotics enthusiast can use to easily program their mobile phones to control their hobby project. These libraries will be beneficial in any situation where it is effective for the operator to use an off-the-shelf, relatively inexpensive, hand-held mobile phone as a remote controller rather than a considerably heavy and bulky remote controllers which are popular today. Several usage examples and experiments are presented which demonstrate the controller’s ability to effectively control a modular robot to perform a series of complex gaits and poses, as well as navigating a module through an obstacle course.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME
Topics: Robots



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