Autonomous Manufacturing Lab
AML-PENNDesign | University of Pennsylvania
AML-PENNDesign explores the integration of design and production within robotic processes of building manufacturing. The economic and environmental cost of building is able to be reduced through increases in the intricacy and complexity of design and engineering solutions. This however, is dependent on the design possibilities and production efficiencies of building manufacturing processes. Beyond industrial automation, autonomous and semi-autonomous manufacturing are able to provide embodied forms of decision making, providing new opportunities for bespoke fabrication where adaptive processes can actively engage with the formation and physical manipulation of materials in novel ways. The interdisciplinary AML lab aims to develop innovative methods of manufacturing that leverage real-time robotics, computation, sensor and computer vision technologies within generative design processes, in order to expand the creative and practical possibilities of design through a direct engagement with the physical world of manufacturing. AML-PENNDesign is part of PennDesign's Advanced Research and Innovation Lab (ARI).
Robotic Manufacturing has enabled industry to advance from mass-production to mass-customization (Post-Fordist production). Flexible technologies relatively agnostic of specific designs, allow for greater diversity and experimentation within the design fields. Design potentials however, remain limited to the material processes and manufacturing techniques utilized. Through the development of novel techniques of manufacture, the AML seeks to provide customized, tailored responses to design and production that integrate material processes of formation with novel methods of robotic programming.
Generative Design Computation
Robotic manufacturing enables an increase in the complexity and intricacy of building designs, which in turn, presents challenges to how designs are developed and evaluated. Generative Design Computation exploits the creative potential of computing, to develop novel solutions to relatively complex problems. The AML develops computational processes that address various pragmatic, performative, and creative design concerns. These methodologies aim to incorporate bespoke manufacturing logistics whilst creating qualitative design affects that arise through various material processes of production.
Sensor and computer vision technologies enable robotic systems to operate with feedback from their environment, providing 'situated' awareness to actions. While most robotic fabrication involves explicitly described (preprogrammed) tasks, the lab's research also develops event-based decision making capabilities that enable bespoke manufacturing processes to be adaptive to various physical and computational circumstances.
PennDesign’s Autonomous Manufacturing Lab (AML-PennDesign) is affiliated with AML-UCL, also directed by Robert Stuart-Smith in the Department of Computer Science, University College of London. AML-UCL’s research focuses on multi-agent/distributed robotics for on-site building construction. AML-UCL.CS is currently developing a control framework for Aerial Additive Building Manufacturing (Aerial ABM) — an EPSRC funded research project developing an autonomous robot swarm system for in-situ 3D-printed construction. The research is being undertaken in collaboration with Imperial College, University of Bath, and the Architectural Association.