Cobotic Matters
Human-Robot Collaboration CAD-Logic
An Interdisciplinary course between Dessau Institute of Architecture & Fachbereich Design  Tutors: Sina Mostafavi (DIA), Manuel Kretzer (DDD) & Benjamin Kemper (DDD)

Keywords: Human-Robot Collaboration, Cobotic Materialization, Discrete Design, Additive Aggregation, Digital Co-Fabrication, Cobotic Assembly.

 “ I like to think (and the sooner the better!) of a cybernetic meadow where mammals and computers live together in mutually programming harmony like pure water touching clear sky.

I like to think (right now, please!) of a cybernetic forest filled with pines and electronics where deer stroll peacefully past computers as if they were flowers with spinning blossoms.

I like to think (it has to be!) of a cybernetic ecology where we are free of our labors and joined back to nature, returned to our mammal brothers and sisters, and all watched over by machines of loving grace.”

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, Richard Brautigan, 1967

Course Brief

Imagine a future where humans and machines coexist, where intelligent robots are involved in everyday aspects of our daily life, assisting and supporting us with their strength and endurance. Even though it might still take some time until we reach Richard Brautigan‘s dream of a „cybernetic ecology, “something that James Lovelock more recently describes as the „Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence“, (James Lovelock, Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence (Allen Lane, 2019))  smart technologies are on the rise and already radically transform the way we live and work.

This collaborative course builds upon the premise that human-robot collaboration (HRC) and mobile fabrication/assembly technologies will fundamentally change how we design, manufacture, and build. HRC is the study of collaborative processes in which human and robotic agents operate together to achieve shared goals. As a joint venture between the Dessau Institute of Architecture, DARS studio, and the Dessau Department of Design, Materiability Research Group, we want to explore the possibilities of working with a KUKA LBR iiwa, the world’s first series-produced sensitive, and therefore HRC-compatible, robot.

Focussing on the so-called IKEA effect (Anton Nikolov, Design Principle: The IKEA Effect, which increases the perceived value of products that consumers have partially (co)created, the task of this course will be to design a set of discrete elements, which together with the cobot can be assembled into different spatial configurations, objects or structures.

Interdisciplinary Teams, Workflows, Objectives

Students from both departments will work in interdisciplinary teams of four and design and create basic elements, which collaboratively with the cobot shall be joinable into varying assemblies. Whether those reconfigurable systems have different purposes and functions or whether they are largely ornamental will be developed throughout the course. The important question to ask is how to actively engage with the machine in the process of co-creation and if a consumer‘s identification with the final object can be strengthened through such an approach, just as a self-built Billy shelf feels much more unique than the one that is ready-made.

The following phases clarify the overall group dynamics, workflows, and design research objectives:

Phase 1_ Research (6.10 - 27.10) DIA only! Research on digital design and robotic/cobotic fabrication. Presentation to Design students on Oct. 27. Formation of groups and introduction to human-robot collaboration followed by hands-on experiments.

Phase 2_ Design (3.11 - 24.11) Conceptual framework for the cobotic aggregations, including digital design and fabrication of components to be co-assembled with the robot and developing workflows for human-robot collaboration and assembly 

Phase 3_ Development (1.12 - 22.12) Design development of the overall installation and component details

Phase 4_ Production (12.1 - 26.1) Final prototypes, documentation of posters and videos 

General Notes

This course will be held in a hybrid format (both online and on-site). However, we recommend this course to those who can attend - especially the production and assembly sessions - in person. Students registered for the DIA Cobotic Production of Resilient Communities studio will automatically be part of this CAD-logic course as it provides both technical and methodical knowledge for the studio. However, depending on the number of registered students, there might be spots for more DIA participants.
Initial References

Braumann, Johannes; Stumm, Sven; Brell-Cokcan, Sigrid. 2016. “Towards New Robotic Design Tools: Using Collaborative Robots within the Creative Industry”. In ACADIA // 2016, ISBN 978-0-692-77095-5] Ann Arbor 27-29 October 2016, pp. 164-173.

Kretzer, Manuel. 2017. Information Materials Smart Materials for Adaptive Architecture.

Mostafavi, Sina. 2021. Hybrid Intelligence in Architectural Robotic Materialization (HI-ARM): Computational, Fabrication and Material Intelligence for Multi-Mode Robotic Production of Multi-Scale and Multi-Material Systems.

Sanchez, Jose. 2016. “Combinatorial design: Non-parametric computational design strategies”. ACADIA // 2016. ISBN 978-0-692-77095-5] Ann Arbor 27-29 October, 2016, pp. 44-53.

Vasey; Lauren; Long Nguyen; Tovi Grossman; Heather Kerrick; Danil Nagy; Evan Atherton; David Thomasson; Nick Cote; David Benjamin; George Fitzmaurice; Achim Menges. 2016. “Collaborative Construction: Human and Robotic Collaboration Enabling the Fabrication and Assembly of a Filament-Wound Structure”. In ACADIA // 2016. ISBN 978-0-692-77095-5] Ann Arbor 27-29 October 2016, pp. 184-19.

Wibranek, Bastian; Oliver Tessmann, Boris Belousov and Alymbek Sadybakasov. 2019. “ Interactive Assemblies: Man-Machine Collaborations for a Material-Based Modeling Environment”. In Ji-Hyun Lee (Eds.) "Hello, Culture”. CAAD Futures 2019, Proceedings / ISBN 978-89-89453-05-5] Daejeon, Korea, p. 186.