Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical Engineering

First Adviser

Noel D. Perreira


Designing ‘Plug-N-Play’ robotic modules by generalizable methods for integration of communication, sensors, and actuators is a hard problem. Current modular robotic systems require multi-disciplined approaches towards significant invention, integration, and improvement in creating modularized robots for the future. In robotics there is a reluctance to use wireless communication technologies due to poor reliability, latency, and security concerns. These concerns are relevant since essential continuous controlled operations using accurate kinematic measurement data are communicated for real-time module sensing and motion control.

A modeler’s approach to architect a new modular robotic system is greatly improved by generalizable methods for wireless communication, motion sensory capability, and a revolute joint design in a serial-link configuration. A modular robot was developed with multiple limbs able to rotate >360° continuously void of electrical wiring across joint connections, carrying its own low-level intelligence, power, actuation, sensory, and wireless communication for bi-directional motor torque control and for a centralized network.

In support of these accomplishments, an innovative mechatronic system is modeled to optimize the calibration process for a redundant accelerometer array device. Such an array capable for high precision and accuracy estimation of pose is needed for feedback control systems. Link aggregation through a distributed optical communication system with full duplex capability across a modular robot’s revolute joint was technologically advanced and its feasibility validated. This research provides methods and modeled platforms targeting high frequency control cycles of 200 Hz to 1 kHz. A robot’s ‘Plug-N-Play’ rapid modular limb replacement system strategically enabled with an optical wireless network system was engineered, prototyped, and tested. All of the above subsystems and several supporting prototyped components relevant to modular robotics are demonstrated and their performance studied.

The modular robotic platform was successfully designed to be simple, robust, and innovatively a versatile design for distributed optical robotic arrays. This work explains analysis methods to model subsystems using empirical and analytical methods, as well as numerical, and optimization analysis. The reliability of the so obtained is also examined. This research provides solutions to solving major limitations in robotics such as portability, configurability, replaceability, controllability, adaptability, and manufacturability. The robot platform supports future data collections to bolster algorithm research in the areas of pose placement estimation, communication protocol handlers, and characterization of parallel distributed motion control methods. These current and future modular developments improve technologies geared towards medical limb prosthetics, service robots, and medical surgical robots.

Available for download on Thursday, January 27, 2022