Nowadays anthropoid robots question the role of human labor and its contribution into future society. Represented as bulky pre-industrial devices, they often fake human-like form. We draft a future where robotics implements human capabilities with systems closely related to natural organisms.
The research -summarized in a recent submitted patent- drafts for the first time the results of ten years research across fields of software engineering, design and manufacturing processes. The technology used -based in tensegrity principle- is here employed to give form to an actuated lightweight arm resembling a human arm. Based in an unprecedented application of tensegrity system, fundamental principles of nature display how forces of tension and compression intertwined materializing a minimal structural system. Because their lightweight, flexibility, transportability, minimal use of material and energy, this systems embrace a future of sustainable systems in terms of production cost and environmental compatibility. At a closer look, the actuated structural system appears as an hollow silicone body barely 1 mm thick, with no internal support: a glove manifesting an intrinsic rigidity. The object is suspended and punctured by multiple motors plugged into its skin. The body shows itself capable to perform complex motions similarly to an anthropomorphic arm.
Thanks to all of you I have met, shared and collaborated during the Dutch Design Week 2017. We hope you enjoyed our stand. Please contact us if you are interested to further know about our works. See you next year.
Leading the discussion on new frontiers for lightweight structural systems of the future, we imaged and built an hypothetical aerial vehicle -a flying wing- inspired by the suggestive drawings of H. Miyazaki.
Presenting a floating installation together with 1:1 scale details of the object, dissect the process of experimentation, we intend to widen the spectrum of future structural wonders.
Inspired by the very basic principles of nature – how forces interact and materialize into minimal waste of energy and matter – Tensegrities are today among structural solutions for lightweight systems most studied and yet mostly unexplored into practice . Often disregarded like artistic follies or bizarre construction, we took first steps in materializing how such tensegrity principle fits within a specific design intent.
The research methodology first presented at IASS-2010 Shanghai, then further deepened and discussed at IASS-2015 Amsterdam and Tensinet-2016 Newcastle ( both structural oriented symposiums), has here took a step back to fundamentals: working on force balance, lightness and material economy. The innocent and crude execution of such installation conceals a challenging task in terms of design, computing, problem solving, manufacturing and assembling. A system so simple, yet so complex to make, wildly explores how far natural systems can still inspired us in a diverging future of scarcity.
With great regreat, I came to know that K. Snelson died few days ago. A great man, even if he call himself always artist I believe artistic is a simplification of his deep understanding and thought about nature. Inventor of tensegrity, he alone has explored their application better than any body else. A great inspiation for any modern researcher.Thanks Kenneth.
…The industrial robotic market is currently accountable for a +5% growth registered in 2012 with over 168.000 units globally sold in 2013 only (+5% compared to 2012). The average price per robot is estimated in 60.000 USD. USA and Japan markets dominate the run for industrial automation in manufacturing. Other markets escalating the economical expansion -Asia- or in moderate recession -Europe- are otherwise pursuing partial recovery thanks to industrial automation conversion. On the other side the marketplace for robotics is opening towards professionals and small businesses, diversifying and aggregating the offer in few larger competitors and small service suppliers. In parallel the market of prosthetic -with a yearly growth of +3%- accounts a value of which 2.1 billions goes only into products, components and supplies. It is a consolidated market with growing drivers and growing number of players (fragmentation trend likely due to emerging 3D printing technologies) with locked value chain. Both markets have a trend toward lightweight solutions targeting niche segments of costumers. We believe a subsequent conjunction of the two mentioned markets – industrial robotics automation and prosthetic device- is soon going to generate a new segment of “enhancement personal device” for mobility and productivity. Compared to the existent offer, we think a favorable positioning should aim to lightweight low-cost solutions with limited payload and unparalleled performances. Of particular interest is the sub-segment of industrial robotics for beverage, electronics, medical and pharmaceutical sector (35% of the global market of industrial robots depends on 5 Kg payload handling capacity). In the prosthetic field instead the sub-segment for upper extremity prostheses accounts already 41% among limb amputations. Capturing such opportunity will drive innovation in term of differentiated product, business model and customer relationship (“customer centered” markets). In such perspective a differentiated offer minimizes usual investment costs, associated to lightweight high-end solutions, till today at the expenses of small business competitiveness or costumer affordability. Additionally it positively effects long-term impact in non-competitive economies -third country without effective labor policies- that currently struggle with inadequate means widening marketplace opportunities. Offering to present and future customers an affordable new class of lightweight systems -with high performance and low cost- is a priceless asset strengthening core businesses and market expansion.