Project #16: Tetrobot

Invention Coach:

Robert L. Read


Begun 20 years ago before microelectronics allowed them to be made much more cheaply, tetrahedral robots that can change their shape promise to be lighter and stronger than other kinds of robots, and potentially more versatile. In particular, it may be possible to build robots that act as generalized structures to help in disaster relief. They could help the environment by producing less soil compaction, and allowing structures to rapidly deployed and removed with no footprint.


The Tetrobot project was the first project seriously undertaken by Public Invention, and remains its most important. After a great deal of trial and error and some years of work, we produced a system for building tetrahedral robots on a small cheap scale. In doing so, we create or recreated some important inventions: a 3D-printable multimember joint, an electronic controller system. Spin-offs include coil-choice, a journal publication (video here), the Public Invention Mathathon, the Segmented Helix project, and the GlussCon controller. Work is currently focused on using dlib, a popular open-source library, to search the configuration space to provide algorithmic control.



Skills Needed

Creativity, writing, graphic art, arduino programming, 3D printing, mechanical engineering, scientific computing