A large class of tasks for mobile robots require the robot to cover an enclosed space that might contain several objects (obstacles). The usual approach to this problem is to design a sensor-intensive, computer-controlled robot that usually has a relatively simple kinematic form (type). The control of such a robot is difficult, expensive, and frequently unreliable. This paper demonstrates how the complexity in sensing and control can be circumvented by synthesizing a “chaotic” kinematic motion that, when appropriately embodied by a kinematic form, covers the space and easily deals with obstacles. The evolution of the “chaotic”, sensorless, mechanical mobile robot from concept, through analysis, numerical simulation and form embodiment, to realization is described. The testing of the prototype clearly demonstrates how, for the present task, complex “chaotic” motions do considerably simplify the control of the robot. A computer controlled prototype capable of mimicking the behavior of its mechanical counterpart is also described.

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