Kinetic Flower


Early Stages
The original concept was to design a flower sculpture that could transform into a six-legged spider. Our aesthetic was largely influenced by steam punk, and included clean, curved lines intended to show off the natural beauty of the brass.

Initially, we intended to run him off one central servo, with a somewhat complex hinge system providing the means for transformation. This was eventually scrapped however when it was found that the precision required to pull off the hinge without binding was beyond our capabilities.

The new design included one central servo mechanism coupled with six hinged servos attached to the petals. The servos would have 180 degrees of rotation, which was just enough to transform the sculpture from flower (petals upright) to spider (petals upside-down).


Because the sculpture is so heavy, high torque servos were required to lift it into spider mode. The center servo required the most torque, which was essential in keeping the whole mechanism from collapsing inward. We were constrained by budget in our purchasing choice, and the fact that we now had seven to buy didn't help much. Still, preliminary calculations indicated that we might have a chance at it, should everything go well.

Ultimately, it was our petal design that did us in. The long, flat taper to a sharp point was less than ideal for getting up into spider mode. In addition, when in spider mode, the point had a tendency to dig into the table top, resisting movement and causing extra stress on the servos.

Finalized Design


Ultimately, we decided that a dancing flower, while slightly more cliche, was just as good as a transforming one. We set the petals to have 180 degrees of rotation from left to right, rather than up and down like originally planned. This allowed for some pretty interesting motions.

We also decided to add a user interface to the sculpture, rather than simply having it react to its environment in a set way. Details of the finalized design, as well as a few failed iterations are shown in the Mechanical Design section.

Version 2.0 (Potentially)

We're considering several ways to improve our design. One scenario involves running with the dancing flower scheme, but decoupling the sculpture from the computer GUI, and instead running a series of dance moves directly from the micro-controller. Another option is to include some sort of keyboard that has the moves programmed on it, perhaps along with a few choice songs.

We may also make a smaller version in the future, one with more rounded petals so that it can actually transform as well as dance.