design + research + robots
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Rapid Landscape Prototyping Machine

RLP Machine.jpg

Rapid Landscape Prototyping Machine

Research completed with Andrew Atwood in collaboration with Landscape Morphologies Lab.

In this project, we present a new machine for rapid landscape prototyping using sand as the printing medium. The project was conceived to aid in rapid iteration of design solutions for dust mitigation at Owens Lake, north of Los Angeles, California. The Rapid Landscape Prototyping Machine is composed of three main components for design production: a bed of sand, control system, and fabrication tools. The sand can be reused continuously. Once a design is complete, it can be documented, scanned and stored. The surface of the sand is wiped clean, ready for a new design. For documentation and analysis of designs, we installed a scanner and a projector above the work area. Once a design is complete, we can scan the form, analyze the data, and create simulations. These simulations can be projected directly onto the model for further analysis.

Role.  Prototyped end-arm tools for 6-axis industrial robotic arm. Programmed various toolpaths for end-arm tools. Designed TouchOSC interface. Improved design and wireless control of deposition tool.


selection + Design

The design process allows individuals to select a site of interest, quickly fabricate it through the subtraction tool, and create designs through the three methods: addition, subtraction and manipulation. We’ve created easy to use programs for each to streamline the process. 

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Once a design is created, we can learn from these new formations. A projector overlays more information and simulations from the computer model. The scanner records the physical output to analyze and store.

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Island forming

Islands of vegetation surrounded by water can be one of a number of solutions for mitigating dust in Owen’s Lake. Using existing sand and dirt from the site, new landforms can be created with little waste. Using the manipulation tool, the RLP Machine builds small islands in the sand. Using 3d digital modeling (Rhinoceros) and a visual programming language (Grasshopper), we developed a variety of  input controlled ‘islands.’ We tested these design iterations along with the tool parameters such as depth, angle of tool, etc.

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Design tool

Using TouchOSC, we designed four iPad interfaces for controlling select design options, such as grids, surfaces, curves and pyramids. We built feedback and analysis into the interface as well as toolpath creation.