Starbug fibre positioning robots: performance and reliability enhancements

David M. Brown, Scott Case, James Gilbert, Michael Goodwin, Daniel Jacobs, Kyler Kuehn, Jon Lawrence, Nuria P F Lorente, Vijay Nichani, Will Saunders, Nick Staszac, Julia Tims

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Starbugs are miniature piezoelectric 'walking' robots that can be operated in parallel to position many payloads (e.g. optical fibres) across a telescope's focal plane. They consist of two concentric piezo-ceramic tubes that walk with micron step size. In addition to individual optical fibres, Starbugs have moved a payload of 0.75kg at several millimetres per second. The Australian Astronomical Observatory previously developed prototype devices and tested them in the laboratory. Now we are optimising the Starbug design for production and deployment in the TAIPAN instrument, which will be capable of configuring 300 optical fibres over a six degree field-of-view on the UK Schmidt Telescope within a few minutes. The TAIPAN instrument will demonstrate the technology and capability for MANIFEST (Many Instrument Fibre-System) proposed for the Giant Magellan Telescope. Design is addressing: connector density and voltage limitations, mechanical reliability and construction repeatability, field plate residues and scratching, metrology stability, and facilitation of improved motion in all aspects of the design for later evaluation. Here we present the new design features of the AAO TAIPAN Starbug.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationadvances in optical and mechanical technologies for telescopes and instrumentation
EditorsRamón Navarro, Colin R. Cunningham, Allison A. Barto
Place of PublicationBellingham, Washington
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780819496195
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventAdvances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 23 Jun 201427 Jun 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Electronic)0277-786X


OtherAdvances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation


  • Fibre positioning systems
  • GMT
  • Starbugs
  • UKST


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