This paper introduces a new class of self-reconfigurable robot: the variable topology truss (VTT), which is an extension of an existing class of robots: the variable geometry truss (VGT). Variable topology trusses have the additional capability to change the topology of the truss through self-reconfiguration by merging and splitting the nodes of the truss. We first introduce a hardware platform that enables this reconfigurability. We give a procedure to compute all possible distinct reconfiguration actions for a given robot topology. We show that 18 members are required for a minimal reconfigurable VTT, and we exhaustively enumerate all possible reconfigurable topologies for VTTs up to 29 members. Lastly, we introduce the topology network, which describes the relationship between these reconfigurable topologies. The topology network concept enables some high-level planning and provides insights into the design of truss topologies.
Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics Open Issues