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This paper presents the design, modeling, and experimental verification of a novel, programmable connection mechanism for robots separated by a surface. The connector uses electropermanent magnets (EPMs) [1] to establish a continuum of clamping force between the robots, enabling the motion of one robot to slave the other during a variety of maneuvers. The authors design a novel, solid-state EPM arrangement capable of generating up to an estimated 890N of clamping force under environmental loading conditions. A relationship between geometric and environmental variables and connection assembly performance is first modeled and subsequently experimentally characterized. By implementing these connectors in a custom manufactured pair of assembly robots, the authors demonstrate the connection assembly and magnetizing hardware can be compactly fit within an autonomous robot application. We offer this mechanism as a repeatable, easily-automated alternative to robotic systems that depend on mechanic means to regulate clamping force [2].

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