Category Archives: robots

Recovering Berlin Competition is Launched

swarm urbanism

Some inspiration from kokkugia

From the project Swarm Urbanism…

“Agency operates through two main processes within this proposal: firstly by using design agents to self-organise urban matter and secondly encoding intelligence into urban elements and topologies.”

“Agents within this system are not generic, instead there is an ecology of agent systems which interact, each set of agents programmed with their own desires and information.”

There are two key points here that they use to relate a swarm model to urban phenomena. First, the interaction between agents and their landscape. The agents have a series of behaviors, but they are also directly affected by information that is stored in the landscape, and the landscape itself is affected by the agents. This is the basic definition of an ecosystem.

Second, there is a hierarchy of agents, each performing their own task. In this model, there is a group of agents who aggregate matter, similar to the behavior of termites in building a colony. A second class of agents operates more like a slime mold, to build infrastructure by connecting certain locations in a minimal system.

I think both of these points are crucial when starting to think about how swarm models can be applied to think of the organization of a city.


Convergence of Organic and Synthetic

Robotic Flyfire Paints Images

Have you ever tried to get a rc helicopter to hover in one place? MIT thinks it can do that, not with just two but thousands of the little beggars all hovering in harmony as part of a project called Flyfire. By using LED-equipped drones the project pledges to build free-floating 3D displays, endowing them with enough smarts and positional awareness to organize themselves into an airborne canvas.

Soft Morphing Robot

Darpa is researching soft robots to be used to gain covert access to denied or hostile space during combat. The video above demonstrates just one example of such a chem-bot, which moves through fluctuating levels of air inside pockets of expandable rubber skin. Through this technology, the robot is able to go from a rigid to a fluid-like state and shift shape considerably to go through openings smaller than itself.

From Darpa:

“The program seeks to develop a ChemBot that can perform several operations in sequence:

  • Travel a distance;
  • Traverse an arbitrary-shaped opening much smaller than the largest characteristic dimension of the robot itself;
  • Reconstitute its size, shape, and functionality after traversing the opening;
  • Travel a distance; and
  • Perform a function or task using an embedded payload.”

Amazingly, it also looks very similar to Cronenberg’s conception of bio-technology in Existenz.

This is extremely relevant to our previous discussions about a technology that could repair damage after natural disasters and catastrophic events. Other than war scenarios, earthquake rescue operations is one of the more positive applications proposed for this technology.

As we discussed earlier, I think the real breakthrough in technology will not be based onĀ  developments of current technology, but on something that mimics biological systems. This could be how we start to imagine our system of “instant architecture”.