Read here about tendons and their role in tensegrity research.
A tendon is a tension component of a tensegrity structure. Also called a filament, tension member, wire, or string. Read here about the general characteristics of tendons. For specific materials, see Tendon, Materials; for the use of a continuous fabric envelope instead of tendons, see Membrane.
Active vs. Passive
Tendons can be divided into active vs. passive.
Passive tendons are tension elements that are deployed without any method for intentionally modulating their characteristics. Passive tendons are intended to be adjusted, or tuned, periodically. They also may require painting and other matinenance over the lifetime of the structure. Such adjustments are considered passive adjustments, as they are enforced from without the material and are rarely applied.
Active tendons are tension elements that have the ability to alter their behavior. These may include mechanisms to change length, rigidity or vibration.
Nylon, polyester and advanced polymeric fibers such as Spectra and Kevlar can be combined with integrated conductive fibers to transform conventional rope applications. Conductive fibers are braided with traditional fibers to produce a rope that is capable both of carrying a load and monitoring the weight of that load. Such rope can act as its own strain gauge, monitoring tension constantly while the rope is in use.
The technology will be able to provide load, abrasion and localised wear information to assist rope users in assuring the quality and reliability of their ropes while in service. It is thought that such intelligent, self-monitoring ropes may be used everywhere from mooring huge ships at anchor to the hands of rock climbers indicating when the ropes have been damaged by abrasion or overstrained by a fall. These ropes may be used for safety applications such as seat-belts, lifting ropes and slings; architectural applications such as membrane structures and tents; naval applications such as towing lines, mooring lines and automated sheeting of sails; and for recreational applications on small boats and yachts, on kites and for mountaineering.
Squid labs demonstrated active rope in their Rope and Sound tensegrity .