Knowledge Sharing News

Design Workshop with QUT's UR10 Robotic Arms

 The Design Robotics Team hosted a group of students from the University of Queensland’s School of Architecture to work with one of our UR10 Robotic Arms.
The students worked together to design a wall panel using Morpholo Tiles. Designed by Thieri Foulc in 1985, Morpholo tiles are a combination of square tiles which can be arranged in different ways, as a game or a piece of art. In total, there are 240 tiles, containing black and white shapes; the only rules to the game are to match the black edges with black, and white edges against white, which creates numerous possible configurations.
As a method for organising these tiles, a code can be generated using a mathematical formula.
You can see what the Morpholo Tiles looked like below.

Working with a pattern created by the Morpholo Tiles, Students created a three-dimensional version, as a wall panel. This was done by cutting the pattern lines out of foam blocks; where the solid was the white and void cut out, the black. They used the UR10 Robotic arm, with a hot wire cutter attachment, to cut the desired pattern out of each block of foam. These blocks were then assembled into a wall panel, like bricks to create a pattern.
It was a great opportunity to exchange and share out knowledge and practical skills with our colleagues. The outcome of the workshop was successful, and we hope to build on this work to create wall panels, with mass customised components and different materials, for future built environment applications.  

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Award Winning Design Robotics Team!

We are very proud to announce that the Design Robotics team have been recognised in this year’s QUT Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence. These awards ‘are prestigious university awards conferred to individuals or teams in recognition of sustained exceptional performance leading to outstanding achievement in work and activities that align with the university’s vision, strategic goals and Real World Capabilities over a period of 3 years.’ The award recognised the outstanding work of the team members who established the Design Robotics project, Distinguished Professor Peter Corke, Associate Professor Cori Stewart, Dr Glenda Caldwell, Dr Jared Donovan, Professor Greg Hearn, and Professor Jonathan Roberts. 

The citation that accompanied the award stated that:
“In 2017, the Design Robotics Research Team secured a 5-year $3M (cash) $8M (valued) IMCRC project; “Design Robotics for Mass Customisation Manufacturing” with industry partner UAP (Urban Art Projects) and RMIT. The Design Robotics project is an outstanding example of collaborative multi-University transdisciplinary research and industry partner engagement. The team has seized an opportunity to apply design and robotic vision to advanced manufacturing to reduce the integration time between design and custom manufacturing processes. The impact of the project will enable small to medium sized enterprises a method to engage with technology for competitive advantage, increasing value differentiation through specialised manufacture of high-value products. The project offers a platform for sharing knowledge and inspiration, and facilitates network building among manufacturers, artists, designers, architects and engineers. The project offers QUT a significant opportunity to take a leading global position in Design Robotics.  This team is truly cross-Faculty and is working with a globally recognised company to innovate in Design using robots. This is an exceptional highly collaborative team with great outcomes for the University and for Australia.”
We’re so pleased to see that Jared, Glenda, Jonathan, Cori, Peter, and Greg’s excellent work has been acknowledged and rewarded. Congratulations

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Smartgeometry Workshop and Conference

Research Fellow Dr Muge Belek Fialho Teixeira was selected to participate in a workshop at the Smartgeometry workshop hosted by the University of Toronto earlier this year. In this post, Muge reflects on the workshop and conference.

Smartgeometry was founded in 2001 and is now a biannual event.  It starts with four days of themed workshops followed by a two day conference. Smart Geometry (SG) workshops and conferences have been influential to many disciplines including architecture, design, engineering and mathematics. Originating as a collaboration between industry, researchers and academics, SG has always been a platform where innovative ideas become a reality, informing the potential needs of the disciplines towards a better future.
The workshops are called clusters and are organised around open calls coordinated by ‘cluster champions.’ Cluster champions are collaborative teams from academia and practice who get together to prepare a proposal, or a response, to a specific theme. SG’s open call encourages researchers, academics and industry to discuss possible research questions around the proposed theme and a research avenue, via a project. By working on this project, researchers and practitioners from industry and universities have a chance to see how these technologies can be applied. Participants for each of the clusters applied for a position via open calls with cluster briefs defined by cluster champions. Participants were selected, from a competitive, international pool of applicants, based on their background, research expertise and current interests.

The conference, which took place after the workshops furthered discussions around the workshop themes informed by different perspectives from multidisciplinary invited keynote speakers. The conference was curated in a way that would feed back into the outcomes from the workshops. In that manner, it was a dynamic conference, where the keynote speakers build on the work produced by the clusters and open up new agendas for future speculations. The conference was followed by Q&A sessions that allowed the workshop participants to engage with the keynote speakers openly. These exchanges also provided opportunities for future collaborations.
The University of Toronto hosted Smatgeometry under the theme “Machine Minds”, which revolved around machine learning and AI (Artificial Intelligence). Current discussions on machine learning and AI, generally consist of depressing scenarios of humans coming to an end or humans losing their jobs. Websites like “Will robots take my job?” are opening up discussions about how we should give away our passions for our professions. As a trending topic for many disciplines, SG focused on how machine learning and AI can be utilised for design and what could be some other positive and constructive ways of approaching this topic. The clusters explored the applicable areas of Machine Learning and AI, whereas the keynote speakers of the conference tried to create an understanding of what is machine learning and AI and its impact on our society, as well as the methods they use them in their practice.
The clusters at SG were:
–          Smart materials (Fibrous timber joints, Materials as probes)
–          Smart geometries (AI strategies for space frame design, Mind ex-machine)
–          Smart fabrication methodologies (Soft Office)
–          Smart and innovative ways of perceiving the environment (Behavioural Enviro[NN]ments, Data Mining the City, Fresh Eyes, Inside the Black Box, Sound and Signal)
All of them used cutting-edge technologies and customized software to define geometries. These technologies included interactive tables, VR headsets, industrial robots, mobile robots, CNC routers, sensors, microphones, and many more. One of the most dominant software platforms used by clusters was Rhino with the Grasshopper plug in, as a unifying platform, but there was also other software such as Unity, Processing, Arduino, Python, or custom build software for the clusters. More information on each of the clusters can be found here.
Highlights from conference discussions were;
–          what is AI and machine learning,
–          how AI and machine learning will affect the future of societies and how we can get prepared,
–          collecting, interpreting and managing data,
–          natural intelligence versus digital intelligence,
–          machine learning versus human learning,
–          robotics and advanced manufacturing,
–          interactive installations,
–          complex geometries.
The schedule and the keynote speakers can be found here.
As part of the SG2018 there was also a trip to see the new workplace of Autodesk Toronto. Autodesk has been a close collaborator of SG as a sponsor and providing know-how, keynote speakers, cluster champions and event participants. The new Autodesk workplace has been designed using generative algorithms and has a research centre for exploring new technologies. One of the clusters (Mind ex Machina) took place in this research centre, using two UR10 collaborative robotic arms with custom build open source software for SG18. It seems Autodesk has started to take a pioneering role in research by collaborating with research institutions, researchers and companies through these research centres. With artist-in-residency programs, they are opening up their facilities globally to makers and curious minds. A list of Autodesk research centres can be found here.
Looking forward to the future, next Smartgeometry will take place at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA, 2020 with another challenging theme!


Industry News

We are on the Map!

The Association for Robots in Architecture has included Design Robotics and the QUT Design Lab on their International Map of Robots in the Creative Industry. The map is interactive and you can view robots working in creative research and commercial organisations from all over the world.

Launched in 2010 by Sigrid Brell-Cokcan and Johannes Braumann at the Vienna University of Technology, The Association for Robots in Architecture is ‘an open platform for everybody interested in the creative use, and innovative fabrication, with industrial robots.’
On their website, they state that the association was formed with the goal ‘to make industrial robots accessible for the creative industry, artists, designers and architects, by sharing ideas, research results and technological developments.’ They do this through online communities, such as their International Map of Robots in Creative Industry and through conferences and workshops that they run internationally. They are best known for their annual conference Rob|Arch. This year’s conference is themed, Radical Cross Disciplinarity and will be hosted by ETH University in Zurich, Switzerland, 12th-14th September 2018.
Importantly, Robots in Architecture developed the Kuka PRC plugin for Grasshopper, which enables users to program robotic arms from design and architectural software. This was a significant contribution to the advancement of robotic arm use in architectural fabrication.
Robots in Architecture develops software and hardware for robotics in architectural fabrication through applied research. They have also developed a series of “robot pedagogics.” Their mandate is to develop answers to the question, ‘how soon will robots revolutionize architecture?’ We hope, that along with the other researchers featured on the International Map of Robots in the Creative Industry, we can work together to answer this question.

Knowledge Sharing News

Design Robotics & STEM Girl Power Camp at QUT

QUT Design Lab champions STEM Girl Power Camp again in 2018.

STEM Girl Power was on display at QUT on Friday 23 March 2018, as the QUT Design Lab again hosted a transdisciplinary campus workshop program for the final day of the annual STEM Girl Power Camp, coinciding with World Science Festival (WSF) activities in Brisbane. The 56 regional high-achieving Year 10 girls became designers for half a day to tackle some of the greatest global STEM challenges, through three hands-on workshops exploring wearable technologies, the future of robotics and plastics pollution.
With employment in STEM growing two times faster than other occupations, the Camp is an important initiative of Advancing education: An action plan for education in Queensland. Organised through a partnership between the Department of Education’s State Schools Division and the Queensland Academy for Science Mathematics and Technology (QASMT), the Camp addresses the lower participation rates of girls in STEM subjects and careers, particularly in regional Queensland.
“After a week of immersion in STEM during the World Science Festival, the QUT workshops gave the girls a great opportunity to explore real world applications of the STEM disciplines and widen their perspective on STEM careers, beyond what is available to them in their regional schools,” said Dr Kathy Mackey, QA Manager and Program Manager of the STEM Girl Power Camp. “Both the students and the teachers will return to their communities across Queensland with the tools to inspire others”, she said.
Program Co-ordinator Natalie Wright, said that the camp allowed QUT Design Lab to showcase design’s critical role in STEM education, and highlight the great work that its researchers are doing in the three core research programs exploring design for ‘Health and Well-being’, ‘Technologies of Tomorrow’, and ‘Communities and Resilient Futures’.
“The program was designed to ignite the passion for twenty-first century innovation and enterprise, and empower both the students and teachers as critical, creative and collaborative agents of change. It also exposes the girls to the QUT university campus and the feast of opportunities it offers them for future study”, she said.
Dr Rafael Gomez, facilitator of the Wearable Tech for Sun Safety (Designing for the Aussie Sun) workshop, said the experience in the J Block Fabrication Workshop highlighted the importance of designers, scientists and technologists working collaboratively to achieve solutions for the sun safety of Australians.
Dr Glenda Caldwell, Dr Jared Donovan, and Alan Burden facilitators of the Designing for the Future of Robotics workshop enjoyed sharing the Design in STEM experience with the diverse group of talented students drawn from across Queensland. “We were able to discuss a range of highly relevant issues in relation to robotics and the kinds of roles we want these technologies to play in future society. The students were incredibly bright, perceptive and brought an engaged criticality to the discussion”, Glenda said.
Dr Manuela Taboada, facilitator of the Plastic Attack: Saving our Oceans workshop, was also impressed by the enthusiasm of the girls and teachers who participated. “This collaboration with the Department of Education and Queensland Academies allows us to share and discuss ideas for improving our communities with some of our future leaders. It’s great to see the girls embracing these twenty-first century challenges, such as the human destruction of our ecosystems, with the gusto and agency that these complex systemic problems deserve.”
The QUT Design Lab would like to thank Karen Hall and Karen Macintosh from the Department; Dr Kathy Mackey from QASMT; Dr Erica Mealy from University of the Sunshine Coast and the staff from the QUT J Block Workshop (Wearable Tech for Sun Safety workshop); Alan Burden (Designing the Future of Robotics workshop); and Carla Amaral (Plastic Attack: Saving our Oceans workshop).

Industry News Knowledge Sharing News

Design Robotics in Melbourne for Hermès at Work

Jared Donovan and Roland Snooks spoke at the Hermès at Work series of events in Melbourne on 10th March 2018. The series is described as, ‘Hermès at Work is a travelling exhibition, bringing the Hermès craftspeople from the intimacy of their ateliers in France to meet the public and demonstrate their craft.’ Jared spoke at the seminar titled, “The separation between man and machine is shrinking, how will this change craftsmanship.” Roland spoke at the event, “Craftsmanship in the Digital Age.”
The organisers promised that, ‘this engaging public event provides a fascinating insight into the traditions and values of Hermès in the crafting of fine objects; a presentation that encourages interaction by giving visitors in Melbourne the opportunity to meet and exchange with the Hermès artisans and experience first-hand their unique savoir-faire.’
For more information check out the Hermès at Work website: Hermes at Work

Industry News Knowledge Sharing News

Festival of Ideas: FutureNet, Brisbane

Jared Donovan spoke at the Festival of Ideas event about the Design Robotics project. The event ‘explored the potential of disruptive technologies, such as drones, 3D printing, virtual and augmented reality, crypto-currency, robotics and novel materials as well as innovation in energy, medicine and digital business.’ It was hosted by the Future Net group on November 22nd 2017 at the new King Street Laneway venues.