ICRA Tensegrity Workshop

ICRA 2019 Tensegrity Workshop

Montreal, Quebec, May 24th, 13:30-17:30, Room 518c



  • Valter Böhm (OTH Regensburg)
  • Dario Floreano (EPFL)
  • John Rieffel (Union College)
  • Massimo Vespignani (NASA Ames)

The purpose of this workshop is to provide a forum to discuss recent advances and challenges in the field of tensegrity robotics. As compliant structures with tunable stiffness, tensegrities are a compelling platform with which to study the spectrum of robotic morphologies, from soft to rigid. Tensegrities are relatively simple to design and fabricate, and yet they present all the same challenges and pathologies of more conventional robots. Most valuably, they are incredibly modular, requiring few distinct parts, and allowing them to scale quite well in complexity. This workshop will provide participants with an opportunity to present and discuss the current state-of-the-art in tensegrity robotic research, through a series of invited talks, a solicited poster session, and an interactive panel discussion.

Tensegrities are relatively simple mechanical systems, consisting of a number of rigid elements (struts) joined at their endpoints by tensile elements (cables or springs), and kept stable through a synergistic interplay of pre-stress forces. Beyond engineering, properties of tensegrity have been demonstrated at all scales of the natural world, ranging from the tendinous network of the human hand to the mechanotransduction of living cell. At every scale, tensegrity structures have an impressive strength-to-weight ratio, are structurally robust, and stable in the face of deformation. Moreover, tensegrity structures are inherently modular (consisting of only struts and springs). This means that increasingly complex tensegrity structures can be constructed simply by increasing the number of struts and springs. They are simple enough to be baby toys and complex enough to serve as the basis for the next generation of NASA’s planetary rovers. Tensegrity structures are therefore a compelling and versatile platform with which to explore a wide range of topics and applications relevant to the broader IEEE-ROS and ICRA communities, including biomimetics, bio-inspired Robots soft material robotics, cellular and modular robots, compliant joint/mechanism, distributed robot systems, and tendon/wire mechanism (to name just a few). The goal of this workshop is therefore to provide a showcase for tensegrity researchers to present advances in the state-of-the-art and to discuss ongoing challenges within the field, while simultaneously attracting and engaging new participants in the field

Specific topics include (but are not limited to):
• Tensegrity-based soft robots
• Bioinspired tensegrity robots
• Tensegrity Modular Robots
• Multi-scale tensegrity robots
• Biological modeling with tensegrity systems
• Tensegrity models and simulators
• Sensing, control, and actuation of tensegrity robots
• Theory of tensegrity systems
• Applications of tensegrity robots
• Tensegrity structures in biological system


  • Valter Böhm (OTH Regensburg)
  • Dario Floreano (EPFL)
  • John Rieffel (Union College)
  • Massimo Vespignani (NASA Ames)

Tentative schedule (half day)

  • 1330: Opening Remarks John Rieffel (Union College)
  • 1335: Robert Skelton (UC San Diego)
  • 1410: Dario Floreano and Davide Zappetti (EPFL)
  • 1435: Tobias Kaufhold and Valter Böhm (OTH Regensburg)
  • 1455: Poster Spotlight Talks
  • 1500: Coffee Break & Poster Session
  • 1530: Andrew P. Sebelhaus (UC Berkeley)
  • 1550: Vikas Vishesh (The University of Alabama)
  • 1610: Jonathan Bruce (NASA Ames) and Massimo Vespignani (NASA Ames)
  • 1630: Panel Discussion
  • ~1715: Poster Session

Poster Presentations and Demos:

  • Jérémy Begey (University of Strasbourg), “Initial Considerations on Tensegrity Mechanism Design for Medical Context”
  • Benjamin Fasquelle (Ecole Centrale de Nantes, France) “Modelling, design and control of a bird neck using tensegrity mechanisms”
  • Hugo Rodrigue (Sungkyunkwan University)
  • Thomas Sipple and Aikaterini Petridou (Union College), “Low-Cost Modular Tensegrity Robots”
  • Tobias Kaufhold and Philipp Schorr ( Ilmenau University of Technology ), “Investigation of a Multistable Tensegrity Structure for the Use as Multi-Mode Motion System”
  • Vikas Vishesh (University of Alabama) “Compliant Tensegrity Mechanisms with Multi-Stable Equilibria”

Workshop Logistics:


  • Projection in 16:9 format
  •  Connection (HDMI) at podium for speaker’s laptops (All speakers must provide appropriate graphic card adaptor to connect their laptops to the system, HDMI is the preferred adaptor.)


  • Computer audio interface (for presenter’s laptop)
  • 2 Microphones at podium
  • 1 table (for the 517 rooms only
  • Question microphones


  • Please respect A0 poster size in portrait orientation (841x1189mm) for your poster.
  • Some workshop & tutorial rooms have poster boards whereas other rooms will use the separator wall to hold the poster.
  • Velcro will be provided in rooms with poster boards.  Mounting putty (blue gum) will be provided in rooms where posters are mounted on the separator wall. No other materials are allowed.


Paper Details:

We welcome submissions of up to 4-page extended abstracts as PDF in the standard ICRA IEEE conference format. All submissions will be peer-reviewed by our organizers and selected on the basis of originality, technical quality, and relevance to workshop topics. We strongly encourage the presentation of early research on emerging topics and early results, and the participation of young researchers – including undergraduates –  in order to foster mentorship in the community.

Authors of accepted abstracts are expected to give a brief poster pitch,  present their poster at the workshop, and if possible provide a hands-on demo.  All accepted papers and posters will be made available in the workshop website – and will also be considered for any future Journal Special Issues on tensegrity robotics.

Submissions can be sent to the workshop chair,  rieffelj@union.edu.

Direct all correspondence to John Rieffel (rieffelj@union.edu)

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