Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 October 2018
With the increasing demands for versatile robotic platforms capable of performing a variety of tasks in diverse and uncertain environments, the needs for adaptable robotic structures have been on the rise. These requirements have led to the development of modular reconfigurable robotic systems that are composed of a numerous self-sufficient modules. Each module is capable of establishing rigid connections between multiple modules to form new structures that enable new functionalities. This allows the system to adapt to unknown tasks and environments. In such structures, coupling between modules is of crucial importance to the overall functionality of the system. Over the last two decades, researchers in the field of modular reconfigurable robotics have developed novel coupling mechanisms intended to establish rigid and robust connections, while enhancing system autonomy and reconfigurability. In this paper, we review research contributions related to robotic coupling mechanism designs, with the aim of outlining current progress and identifying key challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. By presenting notable design approaches to coupling mechanisms and the most relevant efforts at addressing the challenges of sensorization, misalignment tolerance, and autonomous reconfiguration, we hope to provide a useful starting point for further research into the field of modular reconfigurable robotics and other applications of robotic coupling.