Implementing Flexible Parallelism for Modular Self-reconfigurable Robots

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Abstract

Modular self-reconfigurable robots are drawing increasing interest due to their nature as a versatile, resilient and potentially cost-effective tool. Programming modular self-reconfigurable robots is however complicated by the need for closely coordinating the actions of each module with those of its neighbors. In this paper, we investigate the need for a flexible set of concurrency primitives with which to express control algorithms, while respecting the constraints posed by the physical structure. We present two solutions for the ATRON self-reconfigurable robot built over TinyOS and the Java Virtual Machine. Both solutions are based on the principle of split-phase operations, and both address the need for a structured, language-neutral way to express the desired control flow, while retaining the flexibility needed to efficiently cope with the constraints specific to highly physically concurrent robotic systems.