In this paper, a complete morphing system consisting of a variable geometry truss manipulator (VGTM) is presented that is fully covered by a flexible panel skin. Two approaches are studied for the morphing control. The first one is to have the VGTM act as a driving mechanism and the flexible panels as a passive system. In this case, the VGTM is composed of active members and passive lockable members. It is shown that the morphing system can reach the desired shapes through intermediate steps. The second method is to have the flexible panels act as drivers and the VGTM as a passive supporting structure. In this case, the VGTM is only composed of passive lockable members. The morphing system can also achieve the desired poses through several steps. The control strategies of the two methods are discussed along with kinematic analysis, a comparison study is conducted to show their pros and cons, two prototypes are fabricated, and experiments are carried out to verify the feasibility of two actuation methods.
Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics Open Issues