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Emergant ability knowledge via local sharing

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000243289D
Publication Date: 2015-Sep-18
Document File: 3 page(s) / 65K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

This article outlines a potential solution to reconfigurable robotics whereby a set of components may be investigated for capabilities. Here the term "capabilities" is considered a physical capability, such as the formation of a robotic component that has defined physical characteristics such as reach, weight, torque output etc. Based upon knowledge of what can be formed from the existing component parts, it is possible to infer capabilities that may be associated with requirements for task solution in a problem area. This solution would ideally be a component of a larger system that is seeking to achieve a specific physical task.

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Emergant ability knowledge via local sharing

Reconfigurable robotics draws inspiration from the concept of multi-agent systems and swarm robotics, where a group of autonomous elements become "greater than the sum of their parts" in terms of what they may achieve. Examples in nature flow readily, from a swarm of ants forming an "ant-pyramid" to reach a food source or bridge a gap, through to termites constructing huge dwellings without direct interaction. This is an established field with an existing research effort throughout industry and academia, with emerging 'hobby' robot items for the enthusiast. A good example of such robotic items are those available from http://www.tinkerforge.com,

which are strictly basic hardware items that may be manually connected to provide a

desired configuration that has a specific application.

    A key aspect of general reconfigurable robotics is the ability for the robot to deliberately change their own shape (and hence capabilities) by rearranging (or adding) parts. This naturally brings the field of reconfigurable robots to the concept of "self aware". He we refer to self aware as internal knowledge of limitations and capabilities, and not any notion of consciousness that is the subject of science fiction movies. Investigations of "self aware" robotics are limited to single monolithic robots that have a vast amount of processing power at their disposal, in order to run various learning algorithms. A key concept to such notions of self aware relates to the philosophical question "what am I". By answering this question, it is possible to derive (in physical terms) the answer to a second question "what can I do". In essence this enables self determination in a task capability sense, which combined with a suitable companion architecture to deliberate over the capability requirements

to achieve a specific high level task, will enable a complete solution to task

achievement. For instance, the requirement to pick up an object would implicitly require an arm and a hand; two rods with servo motors at the ends could constitute an arm, and a combination of smaller similar actuated rods could be assembled to constitute a rudimentary pincer/hand. So we may conjecture that given knowledge of

what is required to achieve a task, are we able to form the components from the parts available, or alternatively, given the availability of some parts, what can be

achieved.

In this article we consider only aspects of the "bottom up" approach, whereby

an array of modular components may communicate to determine what physical entity their specific combination represents. Such a modular and reconfigurable robot system may innately answer the "what am I" question, and so is intrinsically capable of reachability analysis within its problem domain. A side consideration of this "bottom up" approach is that companion units may self organise to satisfy a requirement, such as a need to provision an arm.

    We consider a reconfigurable...