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Right Angle Tetrahedron Chain Externally-Actuated Testbed (RATChET): A Shape-Changing System

[+] Author Affiliations
Paul J. White, Chris E. Thorne, Mark Yim

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Paper No. DETC2009-87657, pp. 807-817; 11 pages
  • ASME 2009 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 33rd Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, Parts A and B
  • San Diego, California, USA, August 30–September 2, 2009
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4904-0 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3856-3
  • Copyright © 2009 by ASME


Modular robotic systems can form arbitrary shapes that best suit task requirements. Such a system comprised of microscale components could form reconfigurable microstructures or high resolution physical prototypes. This paper presents methods aimed at miniaturization of this programmable matter system towards the millimeter scale or smaller. The Right Angle Tetrahedron Chain Externally-actuated Testbed (RATChET) can be folded into arbitrary 3D shapes. The tetrahedron shaped modules are designed to have limited complexity and employ technologies which can be realized at the microscale. The tools developed to design the module’s compliant mechanism can be used to develop small scale modules in the future. Experiments with centimeter scale modules demonstrate that an external actuator can fold a chain of right angle tetrahedrons into 3D shapes. If given the fold pattern to make a shape, a simulator determines the motion sequence for the 2DOF external actuator to fold that pattern.

Copyright © 2009 by ASME
Topics: Chain , Shapes



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