Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
critic: stephen PHILLIPS
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
brian HARMS: My thesis Involved the reconsideration of the role of robotic technology within the factory. The project is a flexible robotic manufacturing plant located at the edge of the Port of Los Angeles adjacent to San Pedro. It aims to rethink/reconfigure/redesign this production-oriented technology in a way that allows the factory’s program, atmosphere, and physical presence to be constantly renegotiated by the same technology it houses.
My project is concerned with freeing the robots from their fixed positions and their repetitive tasks and release them into the factory so that they may perform various tasks in various locations. The production hall then becomes a series of nodal stations which may be rented by companies to produce anything from jewelry to automobiles.
The primary focus of this project is the production hall of the factory. The vast hall is populated with production “hives” – reconfigurable stacks of workable manufacturing space – which are designed to be custom tailored to a specific client/product to meet their manufacturing needs. The goal of the complex is to move away from accepted methods of manufacturing – seeing current methods as too linear, too inflexible, and under-utilizing existing robotic technology (for example, using a 6-axis robot arm, which has the potential to be programmed to accomplish a seemingly infinite number of tasks, to repeat the same operation over and over, from a fixed position along a line).
The end result is a project which is majorly influenced by the robotic inhabitants of the building. To better understand the relationship between the two I designed one of the factory’s robot operatives (nicknamed A_FAB). This yielded certain technical/mechanical/aesthetic inspirations and constraints to help define the spaces it would inhabit. A_FAB is a walking Hexapod robot with the ability to create/alter it’s environment. Intended for production supervision and light manufacturing tasks (3d printing in this case) this team of robots also have the capacity to transform the factory. Over time, the robots will reappropriate building materials as they see fit and print/construct new architectural elements in their wake.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
bH: The vast arduino/processing/grasshopper/firefly community, connecting digital and physical realms via sensing and actuation, investigating the simultaneity of physical and digital elements.
sP:lWhat were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?:
bH: Listening: Deadmau5, Chromeo, Flux Pavilion, Daft Punk. Reading: Rossum’s Universal Robots, Physical Computing.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
bH: The happenings at SCI-Arc’s Robot House, future cities lab, Andy Payne’s work @ the GSD.