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Self-assembly in autonomous Robotic Systems (SELFASSEMBLING ROBOT)
Start date: Jan 1, 2008, End date: Dec 31, 2009 PROJECT  FINISHED 

It has been observed that discrete and autonomous entities, on scales from the molecular to the planetary, bind to each other without being externally directed. The underlying process, termed self-assembly, encouraged researchers from many disciplines to study the design of modular and collective robot systems in which new entities arise autonomously by self-assembling. However, potential uses of such entities and their merits with respect to traditional robots are vastly unexplored. This project represents a systematic attempt to evaluate the utility of self-assembly for autonomous robot missions in highly unstructured, unknown environments.In particular, we examine:(i) mechanisms that let components of a robotic system organize into connected logical entities displaying primitive forms of self-repair and self-replication, and(ii) mechanisms that let these entities navigate all-terrain and manipulate different objects, while at the same time adapting their degree of mobility and strength by adding or rejecting components.The study will be carried out using the state-of-the-art swarm-bot system, the outcome of a project funded by the Future and Emerging Technologies programme of the European Commission. Additionally, the applicant will participate in the development of a new modular robot that potentially will overcome the shortcomings of current systems.The structure of the project is such that there will be two main transfer of knowledge flows:(i) from the applicant to the host institute, the applicant will provide extensive experience in controlling modular robot systems with state-of-the-art techniques such as swarm-intelligent, behaviour-based and evolutionary robotics;(ii) from the host institute to the applicant, the applicant will acquire, by taking part in the design and implementation of the new modular robot hardware, unique and advanced competencies in robotics that will be very important for his future career in robotics research.

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