1st International ICST Conference on Robot Communication and Coordination

Research Article

Distributed Control Diffusion: Towards a Flexible Programming Paradigm for Modular Robots

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  • @INPROCEEDINGS{10.4108/ICST.ROBOCOMM2007.2197,
        author={Ulrik P. Schultz},
        title={Distributed Control Diffusion: Towards a Flexible Programming Paradigm for Modular Robots},
        proceedings={1st International ICST Conference on Robot Communication and Coordination},
        proceedings_a={ROBOCOMM},
        year={2010},
        month={5},
        keywords={},
        doi={10.4108/ICST.ROBOCOMM2007.2197}
    }
    
  • Ulrik P. Schultz
    Year: 2010
    Distributed Control Diffusion: Towards a Flexible Programming Paradigm for Modular Robots
    ROBOCOMM
    ICST
    DOI: 10.4108/ICST.ROBOCOMM2007.2197
Ulrik P. Schultz1,*
  • 1: Maersk Institute University of Southern Denmark
*Contact email: ups@mmmi.sdu.dk

Abstract

A self-reconfigurable robot is a robotic device that can change its own shape. Self-reconfigurable robots are commonly built from multiple identical modules that can manipulate each other to change the shape of the robot. The robot can also perform tasks such as locomotion without changing shape. Programming a modular, self-reconfigurable robot is however a complicated task: the robot is essentially a real-time, distributed embedded system, where control and communication paths often are tightly coupled to the current physical configuration of the robot. To facilitate the task of programming modular, selfreconfigurable robots, we present the concept of distributed control diffusion: distributed queries are used to identify modules that play a specific role in the robot, and behaviors that implement specific control strategies are diffused throughout the robot based on these role assignments. This approach allows the programmer to dynamically distribute behaviors throughout a robot and moreover provides a partial abstraction over the concrete physical shape of the robot. We have implemented a prototype of a distributed control diffusion system for the ATRON modular, self-reconfigurable robot. The prototype relies on a simple virtual machine with a dedicated instruction set, allowing mobile programs to migrate between the modules that constitute a robot. Through a number of simulated experiments, we should how a single rule-based controller program implemented using distributed control diffusion can perform simple obstacle avoidance in a wide range of different car-like robots constructed using ATRON modules.