Tensegrity Robotics Video from IEEE Spectrum Has Gone Viral

BEST Lab collaborators Adrian Agogino and Vytas SunSpiral from the Intelligent Systems Division of the NASA Ames Research Centerwere recently interviewed by IEEE Spectrum. The article (NASA’s Squishable ‘Super Ball Bot’ Could Explore Titan) and YouTube video were released on December 23, 2013. Since then the article has been propogated world-wide and the video has gone viral with over 373,000 views and still counting. Google has tracked over 60 articles on this story as well. This video is a mash-up by slate video that starts with an old film of the original super ball.  More on this project and our collaboration at  BEST (Berkeley Emergent Space Tensegrities).

UC Berkeley doctoral students working on the tensegrity robotic research are: Andrew (Drew) Sabelhaus and Kyunam Kim. Five MEng students – Justino Calangi (Advanced Controls, ME), Yangxin Chen (Product Design, ME), Eric Cheng-yu Hong (Visual Computing Graphics, EECS), Yuejia (Margaret) Liu (Computational Manufacturing, ME) and Dizhou Lu (Product Design, ME) are working on the project by designing, building the mechanical components and developing a tensegrity kit for simulation and testing of actuation and control strategies. Deaho Moon is an undergraduate researcher who has been working on the mechanical testing and drop tests.

Kyunam Kim,Yangxin Chen,Yuejia (Margaret) Liu and Justino Calangi with Professor Alice Agogino at Fung Institute poster session, December 2013.


This research is on a revolutionary soft robotics concept that integrates biomimetics and tensegrity structures. Tensegrity robots are composed of purely tensile and compressive components (cables and rods). We are exploring co-robot applications (where humans and robots work as partners) since they are unlikely to harm their environment or human users. The application areas we are pursuing include space exploration, home health care and search & rescue.

The simulated images and animation (below left) are for the Super Ball Bots application envisioned for space applications where they could deployed and bounce to a landing before moving and exploring the surface. See video of NASA collaborators Adrian Agogino and Vytas SunSpiral explain the structural advantages of tensegrity robots in this article and video (below, right): NASA’s Squishable ‘Super Ball Bot’ Could Explore Titan, IEEE Spectrum, December 2013.

Related News and Publications