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Novel Form-Finding of Tensegrity Structures Using Ant Colony Systems

[+] Author Affiliations
Yao Chen, Jian Feng

Southeast University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

Yongfen Wu

PLA University of Science and Technology, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

Paper No. DETC2011-47900, pp. 1283-1289; 7 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 6: 35th Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, Parts A and B
  • Washington, DC, USA, August 28–31, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5483-9
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Tensegrity structures are drawing the attention of architects and engineers due to their remarkable configurations. They have inextensional mechanisms, yet they are stable. The determination of connectivity patterns of the compression bars and tension cables is a key to design tensegrity structures. In this paper, a discrete optimization model for the form-finding of tensegrity structures was developed, and converted into a modified travelling salesman problem (TSP). The ant colony system (ACS) was used to search for feasible solutions, where all the given nodes were taken as different cities in the network. To obtain optimized shapes of tensegrity structures with stable equilibriums and adequate stiffness, an objective function was introduced. Examples based on the geometries of some polyhedra were carried out using the proposed technique. Many different configurations of the assemblies which consist of cables and bars are transformed into interesting tensegrity structures. It concludes that this novel algorithm could be applicable to the form-finding of both regular and nonregular tensegrity structures.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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