Molecube Mechanics of Modular Robotics

In this article will be presented of Molecube mechanic of modular Robotic. The module design is inspired by earlier successful design that was used to demonstrate physical robotic self replication. The original Molecube design of 2004 has been miniaturized, ruggedized and simplified.

Each robot has a shape of a cube with rounded corners and comprises approximately two triangular pyramidal halves connected with their bases so that their main axes are coincident. These cube halves are rotated by the robot motor about a common axis relative to each other. Each of the six faces of a robot is equipped with an electromechanical connector that can be used to join two modules together. Symmetric connector design allows 4 possible relative orientations of two connected module interfaces, each resulting in different robot kinematics.

Each Molecube has six major structural parts are shown translucent and all can be manufactured from ABS plastic using the available design file and a fused disposition rapid prototyping machine, for instance Dimension SST or similar.

The remaining components are standard stock parts: the AX-12 servo, thin section X-type bearing and the electrical collector to enable continuous module rotation. The AX-12 servo occupies the largest volume inside of the module. Its body dimensions limit the smallest possible dimensions of the Molecube. To make the module as small as possible and improve the transmission torque from the servo to the robot haves, the servo was modified. The servo front wall is removed, and the output internal gear of the Molecube is meshed directly with the output spur gear of the robot that is located inside of the servo body. This type of meshing allows the servo output shaft to be supported in the bearings on both sides of the torque transmission point, thus reducing the gear deflection, and the chance of gear disengagement under load.

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