JRM Vol.34 No.2 pp. 202-211
doi: 10.20965/jrm.2022.p0202


Review of Electronics-Free Robotics: Toward a Highly Decentralized Control Architecture

Yoichi Masuda and Masato Ishikawa

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Osaka University
2-1 Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan

November 5, 2021
March 7, 2022
April 20, 2022
electronics-free robotics, embodied intelligence, autonomous decentralized control
Review of Electronics-Free Robotics: Toward a Highly Decentralized Control Architecture

Future vision of electronics-free robots

In recent years, conventional model-based motion control has become more challenging owing to the continuously increasing complexity of areas in which robots must operate and navigate. A promising approach for solving this issue is by employing interaction-based robotics, which includes behavior-based robotics, morphological computations, and soft robotics that generate control and computation functions based on interactions between the robot body and environment. These control strategies, which incorporate the diverse dynamics of the environment to generate control and computation functions, may alleviate the limitations imposed by the finite physical and computational resources of conventional robots. However, current interaction-based robots can only perform a limited number of actions compared with conventional robots. To increase the diversity of behaviors generated from body–environment interactions, a robotic body design methodology that can generate appropriate behaviors depending on the various situations and environmental stimuli that arise from them is necessitated. Electronics-free robotics is reviewed herein as a paradigm for designing robots with control and computing functions in each part of the body. In electronics-free robotics, instead of using electrical sensors or computers, a control system is constructed based on only mechanical or chemical reactions. Robotic bodies fabricated using this approach do not require bulky electrical wiring or peripheral circuits and can perform control and computational functions by obtaining energy from a central source. Therefore, by distributing these electronics-free controllers throughout the body, we hope to design autonomous and highly decentralized robotic bodies than can generate various behaviors in response to environmental stimuli. This new paradigm of designing and controlling robot bodies can enable realization of completely electronics-free robots as well as expand the range of conventional electronics-based robot designs.

Cite this article as:
Yoichi Masuda and Masato Ishikawa, “Review of Electronics-Free Robotics: Toward a Highly Decentralized Control Architecture,” J. Robot. Mechatron., Vol.34, No.2, pp. 202-211, 2022.
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