On March 13, 2013, at the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Spring Symposium, PI's Vytas SunSpiral and Adrian Agogino presented initial results on mission and engineering designs, and prototype development, of the Super Ball Bot robotic tensegrity lander, a planetary exploration concept they are developing as NIAC Phase 1 Fellows. Program Management from HQ commented that the work was very exciting and innovative, and other NIAC Fellows have started reaching out to explore potential collaborations. The talk was streamed live, and over the course of the day 1,900 remote viewers watched the proceedings).
In related news for the project, three papers have been accepted for publication at upcoming conferences:
BACKGROUND: The Super Ball Bot project is investigating the use of lightweight, deployable tensegrity robots for a novel mission concept that would combine the functions of a mobility system with Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) systems into a single structure. Because of their unique structural qualities, tensegrities can be packed into small volumes; and when deployed, they can absorb significant impact shocks. Thus, they can be used much like an airbag for landing on a planetary surface, and then serve dual usage as robust mobility platforms on the planetary surfaces.
NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD)
COLLABORATORS: David Atkinson (University of Idaho) and George Gorospe (Ames Mission Design Center)
Contact: Vytas SunSpiral; Adrian Agogino