Antonia Bronars

Actuating a Spherical Tensegrity Robot using Momentum Wheels

Traditional robots are often ineffective in environments with rough and uncharted terrain. For this reason, robots are underutilized for applications like disaster relief, HazMat, CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive) response, and space exploration. The Berkeley Emergent Space Tensegrity (BEST) Lab is developing a tensegrity soft robot, designed to travel over rough terrain after surviving large impacts. The BEST lab robot would be deployed by aerial vehicle, then traverse the unknown area, sending back sensor data and arming first responders with previously inaccessible information. The existing robot moves via shape shifting, and can either sustain a 200m drop or move – not both. I propose a locomotion scheme using momentum wheels instead of shape shifting to address this gap in functionality. My goal is to develop a prototype capable of locomotion after sustaining a 10m drop by the end of summer. My prototype would address this problem, and mark a substantial step toward creating a self-contained robot for disaster relief and space exploration. It would also be the first tensegrity actuated using momentum wheels.

Message to Sponsor

The SURF fellowship has allowed me to immerse myself in research in a way I never could have without it. Because my project had its own funding (thanks to SURF), as an undergrad I was able to put together my very own team to complete it. I learned so much about mentorship - both being mentored by my advisor and graduate students, and mentoring younger undergraduates myself - and teamwork through this experience. We plan to publish our research this November, and the paper will be written entirely by undergraduates. This is a very unique and special opportunity that I have not heard of often, and it's all because of the funding from SURF. Thank you so much for believing in the big ideas of a group of undergraduates and for empowering us to take ownership of our project and run it exactly as we fit. It was such an incredible experience and I wouldn't change it for the world. I truly cannot thank you enough!
  • Major: Mechanical Engineering
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Independent
  • Mentor: Alice Agogino