Tensegrity robots: He hopes to develop a robot that might navigate any landscape
Before a signal even reaches your brain, your fingers can adjust the tension required to lift an object with their tendons. It’s a mechanism (fingers) acting as a mind – a phenomenon called morphological computation that John Rieffel, assistant professor of computer science, is exploring with tensegrity robots.
Made with only springs and rods, a tensegrity’s shape is maintained through the balance of pushing forces (rods) and pulling forces (springs).
In Rieffel’s lab, a tensegrity becomes a robot with the addition of small, vibrational motors, which cause the structure, designed by William Keat, associate professor of mechanical engineering, to resonate chaotically.
Depending on the voltage used, this resonance can move the robot forward, sideways, in circles. While it’s difficult to predict which voltage will do what, artificial intelligence techniques are helping Rieffel discover effective motions.
“The significant result is that we’ve made this robot move at all,” he said. “As far as we know, it’s the smallest, fastest tensegrity robot out there, and the only one that moves by vibrating.”
Typical, non-tensegrity robots move deliberately and are built rigidly to house the large, heavy computers that control them. As a result, their weight often limits versatility.
Rieffel’s creation would not be encumbered by such things.
Using just small motors and specific voltages, he hopes to develop a robot that might navigate any landscape. Its light-weight body could respond to obstacles or objects much like your fingers. Rieffel’s tensegrity, still in early research stages, theoretically wouldn’t rely so heavily on computers (minds) to tell it when and how to move.
“By outsourcing aspects of control and locomotion to a robot’s body, we can use a robot’s computational resources to perform more high-level tasks, like tracking objects or detecting survivors trapped in rubble,” he said.
The Latest on: Tensegrity robots
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The Latest on: Tensegrity robots
- The Squishy Robots That Could Save the Worldon May 13, 2019 at 5:14 am
Buckminster Fuller. One of his most lasting contributions to design was the concept of tensegrity, a portmanteau of tensional integrity. The squishy robot falling to Earth. Tensegrity structures are ...
- Squishy Robot Can Be Dropped From 600 Feet And Helps Save Liveson April 26, 2019 at 6:00 am
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- Squishy Robots Can Land Safely from Helicopteron April 25, 2019 at 7:33 am
They can also work as co-robots with their human partners on the ground when they arrive on the scene." The team of inventors started designing these "tensegrity" robots—which combine the forces of ...
- Squishy robots can drop from a helicopter and land safelyon April 24, 2019 at 10:31 am
They can also work as co-robots with their human partners on the ground when they arrive on the scene.” The team of inventors started designing these “tensegrity” robots — which combine the forces of ...
- How Squishy Robotics created a robot that can be safely dropped out of a helicopteron April 18, 2019 at 1:36 pm
But there are in fact children’s toys with tensegrity-type designs.) Inside the bars are wires that can be pulled or slackened to cause to move the various points of contact with the ground, changing ...
- New motion capture system to give research a major boost at Unionon January 17, 2019 at 10:28 am
Faculty and students are being trained on how to incorporate the technology in their research. Using a student-designed tensegrity robot fitted with reflective markers, Rieffel recently gave a short ...
- Researchers made a 32-legged robot that moves like an amoebaon November 13, 2018 at 3:47 pm
In context: Companies like Boston Dynamics have brought us two and four-legged robots. NASA has even been working on a “tensegrity” design called the “Super Ball Bot” that has no legs but moves by ...
- Amoeba-like Robot Moves Using 32 Legson October 31, 2018 at 9:49 am
(Image courtesy of NASA.) The idea for a deformable, squishy-structured robot isn’t new; NASA has been working on a tensegrity robot for some time, with hopes that one day it could be used to explore ...
- Aptly-named DucTT robot crawls through ducts – and could one day clean themon October 22, 2018 at 5:00 pm
Now, however, scientists at UC San Diego's Jacob's School of Engineering have created DucTT – a highly-efficient robot that can climb up ducts, and run for up to six ... DucTT (Duct Climbing ...
- Spherical robot with 32 legs could be used to explore planets or in disaster response missionson October 11, 2018 at 8:49 am
A variety of cameras, sensors, or sampling devices could be integrated into the arms. It’s somewhat similar to one of the tensegrity robots that Nasa has been working on for a while but Mochibot isn’t ...
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