Design and Implementation of an 8-TET Robot
Dr. Miguel Abrahantes
TET robot is short for tetrahedral robot. The name reflects the fact that a tetrahedral robot uses a tetrahedron as its structural basis. The simplest TET robot consists of a single tetrahedron while more complex configurations can be built with multiple tetrahedra. An 8-TET robot is built from eight tetrahedra. TET robots are currently an interest to NASA because TET robots are capable of a unique method of movement not attainable with standard wheel-based rovers. A tetrahedral robot moves by expanding and contracting parts of its tetrahedral structure in choreographed ways. This allows for a varying number of gaits depending on the robot's structural complexity. The purpose of this particular research project was to design and implement a new system to control our 8-TET prototype. The old system worked, but there was a lot of wiring on the robot and the communication was slow. Every strut was wired to a centralized controller and all communication was carried out with a single radio. In order to remedy these faults, each strut of the robot was redesigned so that each is independently controlled by a dedicated microcontroller. Each strut was also redesigned to independently communicate with the computer program that controls the robot. This eliminated wiring between struts and allowed for faster communication. Ultimately, this research will help us gain further insight into how TET robots should be controlled. Once we develop a very successful prototype, we will be able to gain further insight into the full capabilities of TET robots.
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