Authors: S. Melnyk, H. Svatos-Raznjevic, M. Wyller
Industrial robot arms are often used to perform a specific task over and over again using the same fully predictable code. We wanted to challenge this predictability by working with sensors and a material that exhibits changing and unpredictable behavior.
We chose to work with expandable foam.
The robot was given a simple set of movement rules, eg. move from point to point with a linear movement in a predefined 3D-grid. It spits out a small lump of expandable foam at each point. When all points in a xy-grid are visited, the robot moves one level up in z-direction. How much foam comes out at each point and how it expands is difficult to foresee. The robot then analyzes the foam and decides what to do next based on what is being sensed.
The main hardware we used was an IR-sensor, a stepper motor, and an Arduino board. We used serial communication between the robot arm and the board. The case was made of foam board to allow for fast and easy prototyping.
The project was developed in the context of the Computational Fabrication Seminar and the ITECH Masters Program at the University of Stuttgart.