Self-Modifying Morphology Experiments with DyRET: Dynamic Robot for Embodied Testing

Tønnes F. Nygaard, Charles P. Martin, Jim Torresen, Kyrre Glette

If robots are to become ubiquitous, they will need to be able to adapt to complex and dynamic environments. Robots that can adapt their bodies while deployed might be flexible and robust enough to meet this challenge. Previous work on dynamic robot morphology has focused on simulation, combining simple modules, or switching between locomotion modes. Here, we present an alternative approach: a self-reconfigurable morphology that allows a single four-legged robot to actively adapt the length of its legs to different environments. We report the design of our robot, as well as the results of a study that verifies the performance impact of self-reconfiguration. This study compares three different control and morphology pairs under different levels of servo supply voltage in the lab. We also performed preliminary tests in different uncontrolled outdoor environments to see if changes to the external environment supports our findings in the lab. Our results show better performance with an adaptable body, lending evidence to the value of self-reconfiguration for quadruped robots.

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