Research Papers

Novel Form-Finding of Tensegrity Structures Using Ant Colony Systems

[+] Author and Article Information
Yao Chen

School of Civil Engineering,  Southeast University, Nanjing 210096, Chinachenyao_seu@hotmail.com

Jian Feng1

Key Laboratory of Concrete and Prestressed Concrete Structures of Ministry of Education,  Southeast University, Nanjing 210096, China; National Prestress Engineering Research Centre,  Southeast University, Nanjing 210096, Chinafengjian@seu.edu.cn

Yongfen Wu

Institute of Command Automation,  PLA University of Science and Technology, Nanjing 210007, Chinayfwu_0916@126.com


Corresponding author.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 4(3), 031001 (May 07, 2012) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4006656 History: Received May 26, 2011; Revised March 27, 2012; Published May 07, 2012; Online May 07, 2012

Tensegrity structures have remarkable configurations and are drawing the attention of architects and engineers. They possess inextensional mechanisms and self-stress states at a static equilibrium configuration under no external loads. For geometry with its nodes fixed, different connectivity patterns of the compression bars and tension cables might bring some novel tensegrity structures. Thus, form-finding is the key to designing novel tensegrity structures. Here, we develop a discrete optimization model for the form-finding and convert it into a modified traveling salesman problem (TSP). The ant colony system (ACS) is used to search for feasible solutions, where all the predetermined nodes are taken as different cities in the network. An objective function that considers the stability and the relative stiffness is developed to obtain the optimized configurations of tensegrity structures. Examples based on some regular geometries (including a hexagon and two polyhedra) and two nonregular geometries are carried out using the proposed technique. Many different configurations of the pin-jointed assemblies are transformed into interesting tensegrity structures. To verify the proposed method, some physical models are constructed and compared to the tensegrity structures obtained from the form-finding process. We conclude that this novel algorithm can be applicable to the form-finding of both regular and nonregular tensegrity structures.

Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 5

Specific nodes from a truncated tetrahedron (D = 3)

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Figure 6

Tensegrity structures based on the truncated tetrahedron: (a) e = 0.446 and m = s = 1; (b) e = 0.541 and m = s = 3; (c) e = 0.615 and m = s = 2; and (d) e = 0.664 and m = s = 3

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Figure 7

Nonregular tensegrity based on the geometry A (D = 3): (a) plan view and (b) 3D view

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Figure 8

Nonregular tensegrity based on the geometry B (D = 3): (a) plan view and (b) 3D view

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Figure 1

Pseudocode for the TSP

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Figure 2

Virtual paths between the nodes

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Figure 3

Planar tensegrity structures and their physical models: (a) type I structure, (b) type IV structure, and (c) type VI structure

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Figure 4

Tensegrity structures generated from the cube



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