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Presenting at 2015 NIAC Symposium

Today I just presented progress on our Tensegrity Planetary Lander at the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium. This is a great program which studies advanced technologies which will revolutionize space exploration over the next 10-20 years. There are many amazing technologies being worked on here and wonderful folks to brainstorm with.

My talk starts at the 33 minute mark on the following video, so jump ahead, or enjoy the really cool talk the proceeds mine about how one might capture a spinning astroid using a small tethered space craft.

Posted in Presentations, Robots, Tensegrity.


Tensegrity Robotics Simulator NTRTv1.1 Released!

I am very pleased to announce the second release (NTRTv1.1) of our physics based Tensegrity Simulator!

The most significant new feature is that we have added a new cable class that builds upon our force-accurate elastic cable model, but now also adds contact dynamics. As far as we know, this is one of the only open-source examples of realistic elastic cables with contact dynamics which can also run in real-time. (yes, the underlying Bullet Physics Engine has softbody cables, but they are wildly unrealistic in force propagation). We hope that this will be a contribution to robotics simulation that goes beyond just its role in tensegrity robotics research. For example, they may be of use for simulations of tendon driven actuation. You can see an example of the cable dynamics here:

In this release, we also developed kinematic motor models for increased actuation realism, new sensor features, added PID controllers, added new terrains, did further validation against hardware prototypes, and integrated a neural network library.

We also improved our core infrastructure by improving our build scripts, starting a continuous integration server, added unit tests, integrated JSON for data serialization, and developed a formal scaling framework.

There were many improvements to accuracy and runtime efficiency throughout the system, and many more small changes too numerous to mention.

Finally, we now have a framework to add tutorials, with the first tutorial on how to add more tutorials in place. Look for further documentation to come!

For details on all the improvements and features, please see the ChangeLog.

You can find the tagged release on github, and release specific doxygen documentation.

Please enjoy and spread the word! We hope this tool will be useful for anyone interested in tensegrity structures and robots!

Posted in Robots, Tensegrity.

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Certificate of Excellence

Nice to be Certifiably Excellent

Nice to be Certifiably Excellent

Last week I was awarded another Certificate of Excellence at NASA for building and leading the Dynamic Tensegrity Robotics Lab.  I’m quite touched by the recognition!  Despite the fact that it feels to me like I’m just chugging along, working hard every day, with small incremental progress,  I must be doing something right, since I’m getting multiple awards every year now.

Here is the current list since I returned to NASA in 2011 from being CTO of Apisphere Inc.

Awards:

  • Nov     2014    Ames Contractor Council Certificate of Excellence — Individual
  • May     2014   Space Flight Awareness Team Award, Ames Research Center International Space Station Team.
  • Dec     2013     Employee of the Quarter, ISRDS Contract, SGT Inc.
  • Dec     2013     Certificate of Achievement for Business Development
  • Aug.   2013    Group Achievement Award, Smart SPHERES Team
  • March 2013    Certificate of Achievement for Leading Innovation, and academic and NASA collaboration on Tensegrity Robots.
  • Aug.   2012    NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Fellow
  • Nov.    2011    Ames Contractor Council Certificate of Excellence for ISRDS Human Exploration Tele-Robotics Spheres Team.
Certificate of Excellence

Certificate of Excellence

Posted in Brains, Joy.

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Synaptic Motion Highlights

Over the last year I helped with Synaptic Motion — a neuroscience inspired dance performance.  See more about it in my prior post.

Today they just released a highlights video, and it is beautiful!  Check it out:

Synaptic Motion Highlights 2014 from Jodi Lomask on Vimeo.

Posted in Tensegrity.