Faculty Advisor

Raghvendra V. Cowlagi

Faculty Advisor

Gregory S. Fischer

Faculty Advisor

Cagdas Onal

Faculty Advisor

Stephen S. Nestinger


Disaster support and recovery generally involve highly irregular and dangerous environments. Modular robots are a salient solution to support search and rescue efforts but are still limited to do their reliance on a rigid structure design. To enhance flexibility and resilience to damage, a soft-body interconnection mechanism for self-reconfigurable modular robotic systems has been developed. The soft-body interconnection mechanism utilizes elastomeric polymers instead of a rigid body. Hence, it is capable of deforming under extreme loads without damage. This thesis presents the work completed towards the realization of a soft-body interconnection mechanism. The functional requirements of the soft-body mechanism were broken down into two separate modules for extension and capture. An initial simulation demonstrated the inability of using a simulated model made of hypo-elastic materials as a basis for design. Hence, an iterative design process was used to develop an initial extension and capture soft-body mechanisms that conformed to the desired performance parameters. An empirical study which varied multiple structural parameters was then completed with the initial extension and capture soft-body mechanisms as a basis for the modified designs. The data from the study was correlated with measured performance data with resulted in diagrams useful for the optimal design of soft-body extension and capture mechanisms. The use of the diagrams for design was demonstrated in the design and development of a soft-body interconnection mechanism for an in-house designed small hard shell modular robot system.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





soft-body material, interconnect mechanism