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Read here about Tensegriteam, a student design project that produced a robot based on tensegrity.


University of Idaho Capstone Design Project 2010-2011. The senior design team named Tensegriteam designed and built this 6-bar Tensegrity robot. It is actuated by 12 servo motors mounted on plates at its top and bottom and controlled using a Parallax Propeller Proto board and Matlab interface.

The project idea was developed in cooperation with the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames summer 2010, Vytas Sunspiral leading. David Gardner and Bryce Winterbottom led the project at Iowa, Dave focusing on machine design, and Bryce on the controls. A followup project is underway, to build a tensegrity based robotic snake.

Tensegriteam robotic 6bar nearly complete.jpg


The project goal was to produce a robotic manipulator using tensegrity that can serve as a lightweight and compressible option for future robotic arms. A 6 strut tensegrity formed the structure of the robot. The arm has six degrees of freedom; up, down, forward, back, left and right. Together, they enable the 6 strut tensegrity to behave as an arm with great flexibility. The design is modular, so these robots could be fastened together for greater extent and flexibility.

Matlab was used to guide the microcontroller.

Materials List

||~description||~dimensions||~McMaster part #||~quantity||~price ea.|| ||base plates||8" x 8" x .25"||9246k11||2||$16.38|| ||round stock for pivot top and bottom, spools, split rod connectors||1.25" dia x 12"||8974k161||4||$8.86|| ||POT holders||90° 2" x 2" x 8'||88805K63||1||$27.82|| ||cubes||.5" x .5" x .5"||||6|||| ||rods||3/8" x .145" x 8'||1658t43||1||$6.16|| ||shoulder screws||.125" dia. Shoulder 4-40 thread||91829a517||12||$1.16|| ||spring stud connectors||8-32 thread||9634k22||12||$3.04|| ||bearings||standard skateboard bearing||||12|||| ||pivot mount screws||8-32 x 3/8" comes in pack of 50||91263A522||1||$11.47|| ||servo mount screws||m2-.4 x 12mm||||100||$0.04|| ||1/4-28 bolts for load cells||1/4-28||||24|||| ||braided dacron 50 lb||50 lb .028 dia. 300 yds||||1||$14.90|| ||elastic string||12'||||1|||| ||rotary potentiometers||10 turn||||12||$16.63|| ||servos||AX-12||||6||$42.00|| ||load cells||50 lb ||||12||$295.00||


Tensegriteam's Tensegrity-based modular robotic arm is presented at Idaho's annual engineering design Expo.

References and Links