Video: Configuration Discovery in ModRED using only IR Communication
           Video: Configuration Discovery in ModRED using IR + XBee Communication


The objective of the ModRED (Modular Robot for Exploration and Discovery) project is to improve existing techniques for automated exploring of initially unknown or partially-known environments such as extra-terrestrial surfaces on the Moon or Mars or terrestrial regions with limited accesibility such as in urban search and rescue scenarios.

Modular Self-reconfigurable Robots (MSR) are systems formed by a set of modules which can be connected in several ways to form different robots in terms of size, shape and/or function. They are particularly attractive because they can autonomously and dynamically adapt their shape and gait based on current operational and environmental conditions.

Our proposed research plan enhances the state-of-the-art techniques for exploration using MSRs along two major directions:

  • The first direction pursues an advanced design of a highly dexterous Modular Robot for Exploration and Discovery.

  • Our second research direction is to develop technologies to autonomously control the configuration and navigation of ModRED.

We investigate techniques that allow ModRED to monitor its own performance and dynamically adjust its shape and gait pattern after encountering occlusions in its path, so that it can continue its exploration of the environment efficiently while reducing its energy consumption and the time required to complete the exploration operation. We propose to validate our research results using theoretical analyses, simulation experiments and tests on the physical ModRED system.

Funding: NASA EPSCoR (2011-2015)