Top image: Designing and making pottery by wrestling with a robot.
Bottom image: Designing and making abakography (computational lightpaintings) by wresting with a robot.
The world of CAD reminded me of the old days of computer programming when you had to write your code on a keypunch machine and then bring the cards to the machine to process them and then wait, and eventually get a printout of the results later.
Today's CAD is like that: you have to think of something specific, design it, and then make the toolpath for it and produce it, and then see your result later.
I wanted to challenge that idea like I challenged computing in the 1970s with the existential concept of wearable computing (constantly "being" the computer rather than using it as a separate -- and much delayed -- process).
The CAD equivalent to this immediacy-of-computation is something I call "Undigital Cyborg Craft", i.e. "Being Undigital" with digital computers.
So I wanted to make a robot (or adapt an existing one) that I could wrestle with to make things with serendipity and spontaneity (i.e. without having to plan everything in advance).
Here let's take an industrial style robotic arm, and equip it with a capacity to be interacted with, while it is doing computer-aided manufacture (in some sense going straight to CAM without CAD).
In this way, we make CAD into a form of "tinquiry" (tinkering as a form of inquiry).
Step 1: Make a Controller for the Robot
Let's begin by making CAD into a collaborative process.
We have a classic style of robot that has analog inputs and therefore invites interactivity.
The first step is to make an external controller for the robot, so that one person can wrestle with it while another person is controlling it. Later we'll make it autonomous or semi-autonomous, so we (collaboratively) can wrestle with it while it makes things. Since the robot is controlled in a very simple fashion, a simple joystick control can be easily connected to it, directly, or through the Internet!
Our ultimate goal is to try and understand how we can link machines over the internet among multiple users, and have new forms of collaboration at-a-distance, e.g. so we have haptic augmented reality shared experiences, as in one of my previous Instructables dealing with HARCAD/HARCAM (Haptic Augmented Reality CAD/CAM).
Let's consider, for example, a system that lets two users in different countries, have a waterfight.
Once we have some fun with this idea, we'll return to having two or more users collaboratively edit a Fusion 360 file using augmented reality haptics.
One reason I like water is that it makes for a very real ("undigital") kind of experience you can't really get inside a VR headset, for example.
Water has been a theme in some of my past Instructables as well.
Step 2: Make It Fun: Make It Into a Game!
What's there to not love about a remote-controlled water sprayer!
I got this beautiful old robot from שָׁלוֹם (Shalom Ormsby), and he got it from Tim Anderson. It was broken when I got it, and in some sense damaged beyond repair. This gave me the opportunity to rebuild it completely from scratch, in a way that can withstand being totally soaked in water!
Step 3: Attach a Toolbit (first Example: a Water Jet)
In this series of experiments, I'm attaching various toolbits to the robitic arm.
Let's begin with the waterjet, and our first exercise is a fitness machine that allows people in different parts of the world to have a waterfight.
Step 4: Experiment With a Wide Range of Different Toolbits
Here are a wide range of different water jet nozzles 3D printed.
A standard garden hose connector, along with a quick-release pipe clamp, makes it easy to tinker and experiment with various nozzles.
Later we'll expand the collection of toolbits to include other devices as well.
Step 5: Make It Into a Game
The goal here is to "deadhead" the water jet, while the robot tries to perform evasive maneuvers.
Step 6: Test Out the Various Toolbits
Here we're experimenting with various spray patterns for the robot.
We'd like something that's "frolicious" (a delicious frolic) but doesn't use too much water.
A narrow slot seems to work best: it gives a lot of spray and pressure and "blast" without using very much water.
A wider slot makes a nice "fanbeam" shape.
Note that some of the 3D prints leak, so you can see water sprays leaking through.
Make sure to use a solid dense 3D printing pattern.
Step 7: Make Things Like Pottery and Furniture by Wrestling With Robots
Make handles for the robot so you can grasp onto it.
Now you can make something and interact with it.
So while the robot's cutting some material, you can grab onto it and have it say:
"Recalculating Toolpath" just like a GPS when you drive deliberately off-course ("recalculating"). There you're interacting with the car. Its not a prisoner transport vehicle like these new driverless cars. Instead its an example of humanistic intelligence.
So let's make CAD obey the rules of humanistic intelligence.
Making things with machines should be able to be like a jazz ensemble between humans and machines.
Its not a team, its a band!
Step 8: Make It Make You Fit!
The game should be athletic and vigourous.
My goal here ultimately is to turn HARCAD/HARCAM into an athletic endeavour.
We should get fit by designing and building things together.
Instead of watching machines make things for us, let's wrestle with the machines as a way of collaborating with them.