Multimode locomotion via SuperBot reconfigurable robots

Wei Min Shen*, Maks Krivokon, Harris Chiu, Jacob Everist, Michael Rubenstein, Jagadesh Venkatesh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


One of the most challenging issues for a self-sustaining robotic system is how to use its limited resources to accomplish a large variety of tasks. The scope of such tasks could include transportation, exploration, construction, inspection, maintenance, in-situ resource utilization, and support for astronauts. This paper proposes a modular and reconfigurable solution for this challenge by allowing a robot to support multiple modes of locomotion and select the appropriate mode for the task at hand. This solution relies on robots that are made of reconfigurable modules. Each locomotion mode consists of a set of characteristics for the environment type, speed, turning-ability, energy-efficiency, and recoverability from failures. This paper demonstrates a solution using the SuperBot robot that combines advantages from M-TRAN, CONRO, ATRON, and other chain-based and lattice-based robots. At the present, a single real SuperBot module can move, turn, sidewind, maneuver, and travel on batteries up to 500 m on carpet in an office environment. In physics-based simulation, SuperBot modules can perform multimodal locomotions such as snake, caterpillar, insect, spider, rolling track, H-walker, etc. It can move at speeds of up to 1.0 m/s on flat terrain using less than 6 W per module, and climb slopes of no less 40 degrees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-177
Number of pages13
JournalAutonomous Robots
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Modular
  • Multifunctional and Self-reconfigurable robots
  • Multimode gaits
  • Space robots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence


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