Morphogenetic Engineering

Part of the series Understanding Complex Systems pp 89-113


Distributed Autonomous Morphogenesis in a Self-Assembling Robotic System

  • Wenguo LiuAffiliated withBristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), University of the West of England Email author 
  • , Alan F. T. WinfieldAffiliated withBristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), University of the West of England

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We present distributed morphogenesis control strategies in a swarm of robots able to autonomously assemble into 3D symbiotic organisms to perform specific tasks. Each robot in such a system can work autonomously, while teams of robots can self-assemble into various morphologies when required. The idea is to combine the advantages of swarm and self-reconfigurable robotic systems in order to investigate and develop novel principles of development and adaptation for “robotic organisms”, from bio-inspired and evolutionary perspectives. Unlike other modular self-reconfigurable robotic systems, individual robots here are independently mobile and can autonomously dock to each other. The goal is that the robots initially form a certain 2D planar structure and, based on their positions in the body plan, the aggregated “organism” should lift itself to form a 3D configuration, then move and function as a macroscopic whole. It should also be able to disassemble and reassemble into different morphologies to fulfil certain task requirements.