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