Robotics for Designers

This paper by Andrew Payne proposes the use of a new set of software tools, called Firefly, paired with a low-cost five-axis robotic motion controller.  This serves as a new means for customized tool path creation, realtime evaluation of parametric designs using forward kinematic robotic simulations, and direct output of the programming language (RAPID code) used to control ABB industrial robots.  Firefly bridges the gap between Grasshopper, a visual programming editor that runs within the Rhinoceros 3D CAD application, and physical programmable microcontrollers like the Arduino; enabling realtime data flow between the digital and physical worlds.

The custom-made robotic motion controller is a portable digitizing arm designed to have the same joint and axis configuration as the ABB-IRB 140 industrial robot, enabling direct conversion of the digitized information into robotic movements. Using this tangible controller and the underlying parametric interface, this paper presents an improved workflow which directly addresses the shortfalls of multifunctional robots and enables wider adoption of the tools by architects and designers.

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