This project seeks to develop new methods for designing reconfigurable systems incorporating muscular-skeletal abstractions of multi-membered and multi-jointed structures using rigid, compliant, and active material functionalities. Take, for example, the human hand. We have rigid skeletal structures which, when combined with cartilage, ligaments, and muscles, can form intricate and complex structures that allow for multiple functionalities. However, a bird wing consists of the same features that, when oriented in a different shape or “topology”, result in completely different functionalities. In a similar manner, we look to determine structural topologies consisting of rigid, compliant, and active materials that will solve engineering problems.
To generate complex branched geometries, we utilize a parameterized Lindenmayer System (L-System) approach. L-Systems were formulated in 1968 by the biologist Aristid Lindenmayer to describe the evolution of plant cells. The L-System has since been adopted into a parallel rewriting system that can simulate the growth of branched structures. The L-System is used to describe the topology, sizing, and/or functionality of each branch in the structure; when coupled with a geometric interpretation, such as “turtle graphics”, we are able to generate structures of varying complexity that can mimic the branched structures found in nature. The design of such structures is controlled by an optimizer known as genetic algorithm. Thus, by driving a biological model using an evolutionary algorithm, we can achieve truly bio-inspired design.
Working on project: Brent Bielefeldt