New Collapsible Telescope that curves and twists


New mathematical methods developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Capturing the complex and diverse properties of computational structures has made Collapsible Telescope. These properties valuable for a variety of applications in 3D fabrication and robotics.

A new tool for computational design allows users to turn any 3D shape into a collapsible telescoping structure. Particularly where mechanisms must be compact in size and easily deployable. The research, “Computational Design of Telescoping Structures,” led by Carnegie Mellon Professors Stelian Coros and Keenan Crane and PhD student Christopher Yu, involved in development.

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However, there hasn’t been a systematic study of the types of shapes. Modeled by telescoping structures, nor practical tools for telescopic design. Began to explore the idea of automating the design of telescoping structures. Exploring a wide variety of shapes that could come out of a basic telescope model.

Expand from a compact form into bigger structure

The team’s mathematical model of telescoping structures starts with three common-sense requirements. Each shell must be manufactural from rigid material (like metal). The telescope must be able to extend and contract without bumping into itself. Moreover, eliminating empty wasted space between nested pieces.

These basic requirements led to a key geometric insight. The complicated mechanical description of a telescope can be replaced by simple geometric curves. Exhibit a constant amount of bend but arbitrary “twist,” significantly generalizing the straight telescopes found in typical engineering designs.

Finally, the team successfully prototyped applications in 3D fabrication and robotics, using their novel system to design both a flexible, controllable robot arm, and a tent-like structure that grows to several times its original volume.

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The research was supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Furthermore, at Carnegie Mellon, Crane also directs the Geometry Collective, Stelian Coros is assistant professor in the Robotics Institute and Christopher Yu is a PhD student in computer science whose research is in computer graphics.