Active connection mechanism for space exploration on Mars with modular robots

Abstract

Reconfigurable modular robots are robots composed of modules tied together using a connection mechanism. Only self-reconfigurable one can do that autonomously to achieve different task by changing their morphology or adding a specialized module (wheels, camera). The goal of this project is to design an Active Connection Mechanism (ACM) that works in Mars environment. The principal problem on Mars will be the dust and the temperature. Besides being able to connect under challenging environmental conditions, the dust causes alignment problem between modules. To avoid this misalignment, we designed a mechanism inspired by a concept of underwater electrical connector used in petrol fields. The final mechanism creates a physical latch between the two modules without misalignment. However, the mechanism is quite complex and its volume is maybe too big to be implemented on real modular robots.