Virtual Robotic Simulator
Design and Making in VR
This study in alternative robotic fabrication work flows outlines a collaborative process to rapidly fabricate prototypes in real-time using leveraging the affordances of VR or AR technologies.
The proposed system is a matrix of a robot, controlling devices, a core software engine, and the VR and/or AR system. During operation, this plat-form will let users control the robotic motion, using a haptic device which has the same 6 degrees of freedom (6 dof) as the robot and also can return force feedback and vibration to the users’ hands. Using this system, the user can, for example, cut foam blocks using a hot wire cutter tool, mounted on the robotic arm in real-time and receive the visual and haptic feedback from the system.
This interaction process is shown on the VR display systems for other users who are not present at the fabrication site to review the process and also apply their design decisions. As a next step, the results can be directly superimposed on the physical model using AR displays for those users who are in close proximity to the robot.
Our perspective of this research falls between the pro-craftsmanship ap-proach of Bard and the virtual framework developed by Galambos that have been described earlier. We intend to leverage recent developments in virtual reality in the field of robotic fabrication for the development of schematic volumetric models. It aims to incorporate aspects such as real-time feedback between designers and the design-agent - which in our experiment is an industrial robot – in order to reduce design losses that typically tend to happen between conceptualization and realization.
The proposed outcome of this research is a design ecosystem in which a simplified modeling system codifies an intuitive form finding procedure for the robot to fabricate the artifact in almost real-time while a VR/AR display constantly generates updated visualization of the model and the future steps to the user. Such a system will let the user foresees the effects of his ‘sketching’ and potentially those of other colleagues who are simultaneously working on the same prototype, and also shows the resulting state of the model based on the user’s input. Designers will have the opportunity to modify the sequence of inputs to reach the desired state.
Work flow Comparison
Traditional Work flow
Proposed Work flow
On the Fly Design Modification
Compared with the current approach towards robotic fabrication, in this work flow, the robot reacts in almost real-time, so the user has the opportunity to interact with the robot and apply modifications to the model on-the-fly, thereby establishing a feedback loop between the designer, robot, and the prototype. To facilitate this loop; the current tool-path of the robot, its designated next steps, and the modifications are superimposed to the material block. This will help the users see the effects of their design decisions and allow them to modify decisions on the fly before the robot executes the command. Fig 4 illustrates this process.