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The capability of extending body structures is one of the most significant challenges in the robotics research and it has been partially explored in self-reconfigurable robotics. By using such a capability, a robot is able to adaptively change its structure from, for example, a wheel like body shape to a legged one to deal with complexity in the environment. Despite their expectations, the existing mechanisms for extending body structures are still highly complex and the flexibility in self-reconfiguration is still very limited. In order to account for the problems, this paper investigates a novel approach to robotic body extension by employing an unconventional material called Hot Melt Adhesives (HMAs). Because of its thermo-plastic and thermo-adhesive characteristics, this material can be used for additive fabrication based on a simple robotic manipulator while the established structures can be integrated into the robot’s own body to accomplish a task which could not have been achieved otherwise. This paper first investigates the HMA material properties and its handling techniques, then evaluates performances of the proposed robotic body extension approach through a case study of a “water scooping” task.

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