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BIO-INSPIRED, COMPLIANT SOLAR TRACKERS IN ARCHITECTURAL ASSEMBLIES

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2024-06-13
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Abstract

This thesis proposes building-integrated solar tracking systems aided by soft robotics as an hinge-free adaptive structure. Photovoltaics on the market are typically standardized and often left unseen once installed on site. While there are tracking solar panels, they are an investment compared to their stationary counterparts. Their stiff mechanical connections often require excess components that hinder opportunities for smoother generation of movements. By redefining the context of compliant mechanisms in architecture, we can customize and adjust motions with ease through pneumatic actuations. The initial motivation stems from rapid plant movement studies initiated by cell turgor pressure and heliotropic characteristics of sunflowers that informed the design of part-to-whole components. Common mass customization of soft robotics is achieved through silicone castings into open top molds. Our approach is to tailor individual geometries of internal cellular cavities to control pneumatic performance across a network using a constant pressure to maximize efficiency. Challenges of silicone workability are addressed with optimized casting methods and defined tolerances. Adaptation of bio-inspiration of plants' responsiveness to external stimuli also led to the initiation of intimate interactions between the user, environment, and infrastructure. The result of this study is a series of lightweight kit-of-parts to produce aesthetic and dynamic hybrid assemblies that can be further integrated into agrivoltaic or residential sectors. Keywords: Soft robotics, solar-tracking, hybrid assemblies, complaint mechanism, bio-inspiration, BIPV, sustainability, responsive architecture

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2023-05

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Keywords

Bio-inspiration; Compliant Mechanism; Hybrid assemblies; Soft robotics; Solar-tracking; Sustainability

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Union Local

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Committee Chair

Sabin, Jenny

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Costanza, David

Degree Discipline

Architecture

Degree Name

M.S., Architecture

Degree Level

Master of Science

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Government Document

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Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

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dissertation or thesis

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