Public Invention
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Public Invention

Summer Projects 2018

3D Printing of Tetrahelices and Related Designs — easy


This is an informal list of Summer Projects suggested to UT students. This is a very rough document as you can see, but lays out some ideas for further discussion.


The “tetrahelix” is now a thing. Explore 3D printing of tetrahelices. For example, if we 3D print a helical tetrahelix, thus form a “truss spring”, does this have interesting structural properties in terms of flexibility and strength?

Can we 3D print a tetrahelix “ring”? Can we 3D print a Tetrahelix truss?

Tethralixes may also thought of as edge arrangements, but they may also be thought of as face-to-face arrangements of slightly irregular tetrahedra.

Explore new tetrahedral structures, such as toroids, helices of helices, spheres, etc. — medium

Can we develop the mathematics of different quasi-regular structures? For example, can we construct a tetrahelical toroid using clean mathematics? Can we make a toroid which can turn itself inside out? Can we design fractal tetrahelical structures with clean mathematics? Can we construct deformable spheres? Springs? Structures that grow like snail shells?

Numerical optimization of Warren Trusses (2D) and Tetrahelices (3D) — hard

Significant progress has been made using off-the-shelf numerical optimizes (DLIB) to optimize 2D Warren Trusses, based on possibly novel development of the actual derivatives of the problem space. However, there is much more to do, including robot motion planning, representing obstacles etc. This work will almost certainly lead to publishable results.

Gait development based on Numerical Optimization — unknown

Although not quite ready, the reason the numerical optimization is being developed is to allow an efficient gait for the 7-Tet robot. Developing such a gait is a task of unpredictable difficulty.

Designing and manufacturing better Song-Kwon-Kim Joints — easy to hard

The 7-Tet Tetrobot uses 3D printed Song-Kwon-Kim joints. The rotors break a lot, due to lay separation of the 3D parts. We need the rotors constructed out of aluminum. However, there is much more work to be done in improving the Song-Kwon-Kim joint, including a complete mechanical engineering analysis (hard) and designing beveled components (easy).

Design of a helical pot — medium hard

Can we design a cooking pot that boils water more efficiently by shaping the airflow around the pot, possibly into a helical chamber transferring through the pot?

Design a more human version for DIFF — very hard

The program “diff” and its inverse “patch” are essential tools undergirding our modern computer infrastructure. But they are not natural. They do not do what human editors do. Can we construct a “human diff” — “hdiff”, that compares texts as if one had been edited into the other by a human proofreader?



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Robert L. Read

Robert L. Read


Public Inventor. Founder of Public Invention. Co-founder of @18F. Presidential Innovation Fellow. Agilist. PhD Comp. Sci. Amateur mathematician.