Rather than the conventional classification method, we propose to divide modular and reconfigurable robots into intra-, inter-, and nested reconfigurations. We suggest designing the robot with nested reconfigurability, which utilizes individual robots with intra-reconfigurability capable of combining with other homogeneous/heterogeneous robots (inter-reconfigurability). The objective of this approach is to generate more complex morphologies for performing specific tasks that are far from the capabilities of a single module or to respond to programmable assembly requirements. In this paper, we discuss the theory, concept, and initial mechanical design of Hinged-Tetro, a self-reconfigurable module conceived for the study of nested reconfiguration. Hinged-Tetro is a mobile robot that uses the principle of hinged dissection of polyominoes to transform itself into any of the seven one-sided tetrominoes in a straightforward way. The robot can also combine with other modules for shaping complex structures or giving rise to a robot with new capabilities. Finally, the validation experiments verify the nested reconfigurability of Hinged- Tetro. Extensive tests and analyses of intra-reconfiguration are provided in terms of energy and time consumptions. Experiments using two robots validate the inter-reconfigurability of the proposed module.
- Modular robot
- Nested reconfiguration