Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Engineering Science


Mechanical and Materials Engineering


Dr. Michael D. Naish


This thesis contributes towards the development of systems and strategies by which sensor and actuator components can be combined to produce flexible and robust sensor systems for a given application. A set of intelligent modular blocks (building blocks) have been created from which composite sensors (made up of multiple sensor and actuator components) can be rapidly reconfigured for the construction of Adaptive Modular Sensing Systems. The composite systems are expected to prove useful in several application domains including industrial control, inspection systems, mobile robotics, monitoring and data acquisition. The intelligent building blocks, referred to as transducer interface modules, contain embedded knowledge about their capabilities and how they can interact with other modules. These modules encapsulate a general purpose modular hardware architecture that provides an interface between the sensors, the actuators, and the communication medium. The geometry of each transducer interface module is a cube. A connector mechanism implemented on each face of the module enables physical connection of the modules. Each module provides a core functionality and can be connected to other modules to form more capable composite sensors. Once the modules are combined, the capabilities (e.g., range, resolution, sample rate, etc.) and functionality (e.g., temperature measurement) of the composite sensor is determined and communicated to other sensors in the enviornment. For maximum flexibility, a distributed software architecture is executed on the blocks to enable automatic acquisition of configuration-specific algorithms. This logical algorithm imparts a collective identity to the composite group, and processes data based on the capabilities and functionalities of the transducers present in the system. A knowledge representation scheme allows each module in the composite group to store and communicate its functionality and capabilities to other connected modules in the system.



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