Structural Systems and Control Laboratory

Director: Professor Robert E. Skelton


Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA 92093-0411
Phone: (858) 822-1054
FAX: (858) 822-3107 

Laboratory: EBU I 2114

Hardware  | Other | Posters | Lab Members

An Introduction to Tensegrity Structures

The artist Kenneth Snelson built the first tensegrity structure.  Buckminster Fuller coined the word tensegrity from two words, tension and integrity. Tensegrity structures are built of bars and tendons attached to the ends of the bars.  The bars can resist compressive force and the strings cannot. Most bar-string configurations which one might conceive are not in equilibrium, and if actually constructed will collapse to a different shape. Only bar-string configurations in a stable equilibrium will be called tensegrity structures. If well designed, the application of forces to a tensegrity structure will deform it into a slightly different shape in a way which supports the applied forces. Tensegrity structures are very special cases of trusses, where members are assigned special functions. Some members are always in tension and others are always in compression.  We will adopt the words "tendons'' for the tensile members, and "bars'' for compressive members.  A tensegrity structure's bars cannot be attached to each other through joints that impart torques.  The end of a bar can be attached to strings or ball jointed to other bars.

Tensegrity Experimental Hardware and Demonstrations

Optimization and Control Projects

Jacobs School of Engineering Research Review Posters


Lab Members