Anatomy-Based Organization of Modular Robots

David Johan Christensen, Jason Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleResearchpeer-review


This paper presents a novel biologicallyinspired hierarchical approach to organizing and controlling modular robots. The purpose of our approach is to decompose the complexity of assembling and commanding a functional robot made of numerous simple modules (thousands to millions) by introducing a hierarchy of structure and control. The robots we describe incorporate anatomically-inspired parts such as muscles, bones and joints, and these parts in turn are assembled from modules. Each of those parts encapsulates one or more functions, e.g. a muscle can contract. Control of the robot can then be cast as a problem of controlling its anatomical parts rather than each discrete module. We show simulation results from experiments using gradient-based primitives to control parts of increasingly complex robots, including snake, crawler, cilia-surface, armjoint- muscle and grasping robots. We conclude that this approach is promising for future many-modules systems, but is currently impractical on most existing platforms.
Keyword: Intelligent robots,Robot control,Mobile robots,Control hierarchy,Grasping robots,Gradient-based primitives,Structure hierarchy,Anatomy-based organization,Anatomically-inspired parts,Modular robots,Functional robot
Original languageEnglish
JournalI E E E International Conference on Robotics and Automation. Proceedings
Pages (from-to)3141-3148
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
Event2008 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation - Pasadena, United States
Duration: 19 May 200823 May 2008


Conference2008 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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