This paper presents a new platform for prototyping tensegrity robots that uses an elastic lattice structure for the robots’ tension network. This approach significantly reduces the time required for design, manufacturing, and assembly, while increasing experimental repeatability and symmetry of the tensioned robot. The platform allows more scientific experiments to be performed in less time and with higher quality.

This lattice platform, with associated laser-cutting design techniques developed in this work, has been applied to three types of tensegrity structures: 6-bar spheres, 12-bar spheres, and multiple-vertebra tensegrity spines. For the 12-bar tensegrity case in particular, this new lattice platform has allowed multiple different shapes to be explored as designs for future robots. Basic testing confirmed a reduction in robot assembly time from multiple hours down to a mean of one-two minutes for the 6-bar prototype, five-ten minutes for the various 12-bar prototypes, and approximately seven minutes for the spine.

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