CMU researchers develop algorithm that suggests telescopic shapes for robots that expand or shrink

Image: CMU

Image: CMU

Researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have developed an algorithm that suggests telescopic shapes for devices and structures. The algorithm can be used to build robots that can navigate past obstacles, fit into tiny spaces and collapse for easy transportation. Given a curve, the computer suggests a telescopic structure following the curve. Any 3D mesh can be collapsed into a curve, so the method can be used to make robots that mimic the appearance of animals, such as a lizard, a giraffe or a brachiosaurus.

Keenan Crane, assistant professor of computer science said, "Telescoping mechanisms are very useful for designing deployable structures. They can collapse down into really small volumes and, when you need them, are easily expanded." The resulting structures can be 3D printed for use. One of the applications apart from robotics, is to create collapsible structures for shelters. The researchers have used 3D printing to demonstrate a collapsible frame for a tent.

The simple to use tool allows even novices to design complex collapsible structures. Then algorithm automatically adjusts the structure to minimise the wastage of space, and to ensure that the expanded structures has no parts that bump into each other. Once portions of the telescope have been extended, they can be twisted and turned into new shapes as the segments have a circular cross section.

Updated Date: Aug 01, 2017 06:57 AM