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Research Papers

Structure, Design, and Modeling of an Origami-Inspired Pneumatic Solar Tracking System for the NPU-Phonesat

[+] Author and Article Information
Qiao Qiao

National Key Laboratory of Astronautics
Flight Dynamics,
School of Astronautics,
Northwestern Polytechnical University,
Xi’an, Shaanxi 710072, China
e-mail: doubleqiao1992@mail.nwpu.edu.cn

Jianping Yuan

National Key Laboratory of Astronautics
Flight Dynamics,
School of Astronautics,
Northwestern Polytechnical University,
Xi’an, Shaanxi 710072, China
e-mail: jyuan@nwpu.edu.cn

Yong Shi

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Stevens Institute of Technology,
Hoboken, NJ 07030
e-mail: yong.shi@stevens.edu

Xin Ning

National Key Laboratory of Astronautics
Flight Dynamics,
School of Astronautics,
Northwestern Polytechnical University,
Xi’an, Shaanxi 710072, China
e-mail: ningxin@nwpu.edu.cn

Fei Wang

National Key Laboratory of Astronautics
Flight Dynamics,
School of Astronautics,
Northwestern Polytechnical University,
Xi’an, Shaanxi 710072, China
e-mail: faywong@mail.nwpu.edu.cn

1Corresponding authors.

Manuscript received March 31, 2016; final manuscript received October 8, 2016; published online December 2, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Robert J. Wood.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 9(1), 011004 (Dec 02, 2016) (6 pages) Paper No: JMR-16-1085; doi: 10.1115/1.4035086 History: Received March 31, 2016; Revised October 08, 2016

Various plants have the ability to follow the sun with their flowers or leaves via a mechanism known as heliotropism, which is powered by pressure gradients between neighboring motor cells. Adapting this bio-inspired mechanism, in this paper we present a novel origami-inspired pneumatic solar tracking system for a picosatellite named NPU-PhoneSat that is capable of solar tracking without altering the attitude of the NPU-PhoneSat. We give an overview of the system design and address the theoretical problem of modeling the origami-inspired pneumatic solar tracking system. The theoretical results are compared with the experimental data, demonstrating the validity of the proposed analytical model. Such understanding of soft solar trackers will allow their performance to be predicted, thus enabling their wide utilization in enhancing energy supply.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Yoshimura pattern with its respective semifolded shape. In this sketch, peak folds and valley folds are indicated by dashed lines and solid lines, respectively.

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Fig. 2

Fabrication process of the origami-inspired solar tracker. (a) The origami structure in the form of the Yoshimura pattern; (b) the origami structure inserted in the cylindrical mold with elastomer premixture poured and cured; (c) origami-elastomer composite structure attached to elastomer caps; (d) threads inserted into one side of the origami structure; and (e) final design of the origami-inspired solar tracking system.

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Fig. 3

The resting (left) and actuated states (right) of the fabricated solar tracking system

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Fig. 4

Sketch of the top view of the origami structure. The hexagon formed by dashed line represents the distal cap of the internal pneumatic channel of the solar tracker.

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Fig. 5

The geometric relationship between the total bending angle θ and the angle of the bending element β

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Fig. 6

Close-up view of the bending element with half of the covering elastic material

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Fig. 7

The equivalent linear spring of the origami structure proposed in the paper

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Fig. 8

Comparison of the simulation and experimental results

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