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Description

Morphology, perception and locomotion are three key features highly inter-dependent in robotics. This paper gives an overview of an underwater modular robotic platform equipped with a bio-inspired electric sense. The platform is reconfigurable in the sense that it can split into independent rigid modules and vice-versa. Composed of 9 modules, the longer entity can swim like an eel over long distances, while once detached, each of its modules is efficient for small displacements with a high accuracy. Challenges are to mechanically ensure the morphology changes and to do it automatically. Electric sense is used to guide the modules during docking phases and to navigate in unknown scenes. Several aspects of the design of the robot are described and a particular attention is paid to the inter-module docking system. The feasibility of the design is assessed through experiments.

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