Sensors and gripper arms can simply be attached and removed as needed. You dont even have to be a specialist to quickly and easily replace a defective part, which makes the robots extremely flexible and economical to operate.
Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum: As sensors, computers, actuators, and batteries decrease in size and increase in efficiency, it becomes possible to make robots much smaller without sacrificing a whole lot of capability. There’s a lower limit on usefulness, however, if you’re making a robot that needs to interact with humans or human-scale objects. You can continue to leverage shrinking components if you make robots that are modular: in other words, big robots that are made up of lots of little robots.
In some ways, it’s more complicated to do this, because if one robot is complicated, robots tend to be complicated. If you can get all of the communication and coordination figured out, though, a modular system offers tons of advantages: robots that come in any size you want, any configuration you want, and that are exceptionally easy to repair and reconfigure on the fly.
MIT’s ChainFORM is an interesting take on this idea: it’s an evolution of last year’s LineFORM multifunctional snake robot that introduces modularity to the system, letting you tear of a strip of exactly how much robot you need, and then reconfigure it to do all kinds of things. Cont'd...
Modular, collaborative, and flexible: the "Handling-to-Welding" robotic welding cell joins parts of different geometries and materials. The task is carried out by two robots - the handling robot positions the workpieces, the second robot performs the welding. Depending on the cell configuration, lock gates are available for the inward and outward transport of parts. Furthermore, various positioners, a TCP measurement system, a torch cleaning system, a gripper station, and a contact tip change system are also possible.