Seven BEST Projects at Fung Institute Capstone Showcase

On Wednesday, May 3rd, six BEST Lab projects were featured at the 2017 Showcase for the Fung Institute of Engineering Leadership.

Three of the capstones were associated with the NASA-sponsored tensegrity robotics capstones. Recently there has been growing interesting in the field of soft robotics, which features robots that are flexible yet robust. A Tensegrity robot is a form of soft robot that is comprised of a series of rods under compressional load joined together by cables under tensional load; through proper actuation of those cable it can move across undulating surfaces. The BEST lab at UC Berkeley has collaborated with researchers from NASA Ames Research Center to explore the use of tensegrity robots for a variety of purposes. In this project, seven MEng students split into two groups to build three prototypes: the 6-bar sphere tensegrity robot (download flyer and video), 12-bar sphere tensegrity robot (download flyer and slides) and the spine tensegrity robot (download flyer and slides). More at the BEST (Berkekley Emergent Space Tensegrities) research page. Also see the case study of the project by the Fung Institute of Engineering Leadership.

Pitch videos at the 2017 Capstone Showcase are shown below, along with the other BEST Lab capstones. See BEST Capstones for more detail.


6-Bar Tensegrity Robot: With NASA’s shrinking budget and the increasing demand to reach Mars by 2020, there is a new found urgency to innovate within the space exploration industry. With this in mind, tensegrity robots have emerged as an alternative to traditional rovers with the potential to offer faster locomotion, lower costs, and more flexible mission profiles. The project deliverables focus on evaluating the viability of tensegrity robots.


12-Bar Tensegrity Robots:  See first ever 12-bar tensegrity robot demonstration of walking and impact testing.


ULTRA (Underactuated Lightweight Tensegrity Robotic Assistive) Spine Tensegrity Quadruped robot. The ULTRA Spine’s goal is to traverse uneven terrain to rescue survivors from disasters and assist in the relief efforts by carrying supplies to areas in need. The ULTRA Spine would allow for a human to remotely control the quadruped robot across the uneven terrain and into tight spaces to rescue victims in the rubble without introducing risk to another human’s life. There have been 408 deaths in the past 20 years, and 212 of the casualties were volunteers who entered risky environments because of natural disasters (IFRC 2015). Future deaths could be prevented by utilizing autonomous technology to explore the regions of disasters and assist in the rescue of victims from the aftermath.


Oscillating Wind Power: Coastal areas like Marin County, California have an abundance of wind energy potential but are averse to traditional turbines due to their unsightly large size, noise pollution, and potential harm to wildlife. The goal was to design an aesthetically pleasing oscillating wind power device for use in areas like Marin County. This year’s team built and tested the scale up potential of the Oscillating Wind Power design.


Street Nature Score: Street Nature Score is an online application using satellite data to measure urban nature for the benefit of the public, home seekers, and realtors. The goal is to create a small company for environmental and social good by expanding the site’s data to commercially-viable size and by finding funding sources. The company will aim to encourage property owners to plant more urban nature.

Street Nature Score M.Eng. Capstone Project Highlighted


Tacto: Haptic Feedback in Virtual Reality with Wearable Flexible Electronics (Beyond Smartphones): Virtual Reality technology has progressed rapidly in terms of visual and auditory capability, but immersion is limited due to the absence of touch. Tacto, a vibrotactile haptic glove, bridges this gap. When you interact with objects in the virtual world, Tacto’s vibration varies to let you feel different edges and textures. The interaction Tacto provides redefines the limits of virtual reality.

Continuous Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring(Beyond Smartphones): As an evolution of the Seamless Sensing product concept with Samsung Electronics, the capstone team moved forward with wearables specifically for pregnant women. The project’s goals aligned with our original intent: to provide parents with peace-of-mind security and comfortable at-home biosignal sensing.