Parallel kinematic mechanisms for distributed actuation of future structures

Guanyu Lai, Andrew Plummer, David Cleaver, Hongzhao Zhou

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)
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Future machines will require distributed actuation integrated with load-bearing structures, so that they are lighter, move faster, use less energy, and are more adaptable. Good examples are shape-changing aircraft wings which can adapt precisely to the ideal aerodynamic form for current flying conditions, and light but powerful robotic manipulators which can interact safely with human co-workers. A 'tensegrity structure' is a good candidate for this application due to its potentially excellent stiffness and strength-to-weight ratio and a multi-element structure into which actuators could be embedded. This paper presents results of an analysis of an example practical actuated tensegrity structure consisting of 3 ‘unit cells’. A numerical method is used to determine the stability of the structure with varying actuator length, showing how four actuators can be used to control movement in three degrees of freedom as well as simultaneously maintaining the structural pre-load. An experimental prototype has been built, in which 4 pneumatic artificial muscles (PAMs) are embedded in one unit cell. The PAMs are controlled antagonistically, by high speed switching of on-off valves, to achieve control of position and structure pre-load. Experimental and simulation results are presented, and future prospects for the approach are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2016
Event13th International Conference on Motion and Vibration Control: MOVIC & RASD 2016 - University of Southampton, Southampton, UK United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Jul 20166 Jul 2016


Conference13th International Conference on Motion and Vibration Control
Country/TerritoryUK United Kingdom
Internet address


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