Journal article

Deployment of a tensegrity footbridge

Deployable structures are structures that transform their shape from a compact state to an extended in-service position. Structures composed of tension elements that surround compression elements in equilibrium are called tensegrity structures. Tensegrities are good candidates for deployable structures since shape transformations occur by changing lengths of elements at low energy costs. Although the tensegrity concept was first introduced in 1948, few full-scale tensegrity-based structures have been built. Previous work has demonstrated that a tensegrity ring topology is potentially a viable system for a deployable footbridge. This paper describes a study of a near-full-scale deployable tensegrity footbridge. The study has been carried out both numerically and experimentally. The deployment of two modules (one half of the footbridge) is achieved through changing the length of five active cables. Deployment is aided by energy stored in low stiffness spring elements. Self-weight significantly influences deployment, and deployment is not reproducible using the same sequence of cable- length changes. Active control is thus required for accurate positioning of front nodes in order to complete deployment through joining both sides at center span. Additionally, testing and numerical analyses have revealed that the deployment behavior of the structure is nonlinear with respect to cable-length changes. Finally, modeling the behavior of the structure cannot be done accurately using friction-free and dimension- less joints. Similar deployable tensegrity structures of class two and higher are expected to require simulation models that include joint dimensions for accurate prediction of nodal positions. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)ST.1943-541X.0001260 . © 2015 American Society of Civil Engineers.

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