Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type

Thesis (Ph.D.)

Department or Program

Computer Science

First Advisor

Devin Balkcom


This work presents a system of interlocking blocks that can be used to build a wide variety of structures. The blocks slide together to form structures that interlock geometrically like a puzzle to form semi-permanent structures without the need for cement or friction lock. The blocks are designed to be easy to fabricate, assemble, and disassemble. Contributions of the block designs include a novel interlocking joint structure; the joints are wedge-shaped, allowing for error mitigation during assembly and allowing structures to be assembled without jamming even if there is manufacturing error. We introduce planar, 3D, and volumetric designs using these wedge-shaped joints. Additionally, this work introduces two formalized models of interlock and provides analysis methods for both models to test if structures are interlocked. This work also expands a planar framework for the analysis of free motions and aggregate flexibility of loose chains, and adapts the analysis for the specific application of interlock. Additionally, an extension of this analysis into 3D is introduced and applied to interlocking structures. We demonstrate how this analysis can be used to optimize the design of individual block geometries, as well as the layout of the complete structure. We demonstrate robot assembly of systems of blocks using a simple and rather imprecise robot arm to build structures under an open-loop model of assembly, and provide additional examples of larger-scale, hand-built interlocking structures.