< Back to previous page


Design and control of compliant tensegrity robots through simulation and hardware validation

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

To better understand the role of tensegrity structures in biological systems and their application to robotics, the Dynamic Tensegrity Robotics Lab at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, USA, has developed and validated two software environments for the analysis, simulation and design of tensegrity robots. These tools, along with newcontrol methodologies and the modular hardware components developed to validate them, are presented as a system for the design of actuated tensegrity structures. As evidenced from their appearance in many biological systems, tensegrity ('tensile-integrity') structures have unique physical properties that make them ideal for interaction with uncertain environments. Yet, these characteristics make design and control of bioinspired tensegrity robots extremely challenging. This work presents the progress our tools have made in tackling the design and control challenges of spherical tensegrity structures. We focus on this shape since it lends itself to rolling locomotion. The results of our analyses include multiple novel control approaches for mobility and terrain interaction of spherical tensegrity structures that have been tested in simulation. A hardware prototype of a spherical six-bar tensegrity, the Reservoir Compliant Tensegrity Robot, is used to empirically validate the accuracy of simulation.
Journal: Journal of the Royal Society, Interface
ISSN: 1742-5689
Issue: 98
Volume: 11
Number of pages: 1
Publication year:2014