A team of engineers at MIT collaborated with Columbia University computer scientists to develop a simulation method to predict how cables coil and tangle when positioned on a hard surface. The team developed custom-design cables and used animation technology to produce coils patterns in a lab to develop simulations.
To test their technology, a desktop system was produced to roll thin cables onto a conveyor belt. Different parameters were tested including how fast the cable was rolled and the speed of the conveyor belt to see how the cable coiled when it hit the surface. The parameters used in the lab were then transferred to the simulation software, and it accurately predicted the coiling patterns displayed in the experiments. This new method could lead to better fiber-optic cable deployment strategies to reduce twisting and tangling of the cable.