Design and Implementation of an 8-TET Robot

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Miguel Abrahantes, Hope College

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This material is based upon work supported by a grant from MSGC and the Hope College Engineering Department.


In recent years, NASA has been exploring the possibility of using tetrahedral shaped robots to improve or replace existing Mars wheeled units. The current project NASA is undertaking is the implementation of a 12-TET design. As part of this effort, Hope College has researched for several years modeling and implementing more simple designs for a solid fundamental understanding of how these types of robots behave. As of this point, Hope’s research group has modeled and built the 4-TET prototype and have created a computer model for a more advanced 8-TET configuration. From computer models, it was determined that the 8-TET will be able to roll smoothly instead of tumbling, and the strut extension rations needed to roll were much less extreme than other designes. This summer, the 8-TET was implemented by incorporating power antennas as the extendable struts and used PWM for motor control. Thenodes were machined from aluminum and attached to the struts using eyebolts. Each outer node also contained a ball-and-socket connected to a pyramid-shaped foot, which prevented any binding during the robot’s gait. The combination of these innovations, and the 8-TET design, make this the most advanced rover built by Hope College this research group.

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