Robots are increasingly being utilized in everyday life to monitor and improve our environments. For example, Researchers from theNational University of Singapore have created a bevy of robotic swans that are designed to monitor the quality of freshwater lakes and reservoirs – such as levels of dissolved oxygen or chlorophyll – while blending in with the natural environment. The robotic birds, fitted with a number of sensors, autonomously swim across the water’s surface using underbody propellers.
Robots in Construction
At ETH Zurich, Gramazio & Kohler, an architectural partnership that is especially
known for its contribution to digital fabrication and robotic construction, taught at class
using a robot arm to lay bricks. This is the course as they describe it:
“If the basic manufacturing conditions of architecture shift from manual work to digital
fabrication, what design potential is there for one of the oldest and most widespread
architectural elements — the brick? Students investigated this question in a four-week
workshop, designing brick walls to be fabricated by an industrial robot. Unlike a mason,
the robot has the ability to position each individual brick in a different way without optical reference or measurement, i.e. without extra effort. To exploit this potential, the students developed algorithmic design tools that informed the bricks of their spatial disposition according to procedural logics. Positioning this way it was possible to draft a brick wall in which each of over 400 bricks took up a specific position and rotation in space. The students defined not the geometry of the wall, but the constructive logic according to which the material was organized in a particular temporal order, and which thus produced an architectonic form.”
Though robot arms are currently the most prevalent form of robotics in architecture,
architects and designers have begun to employ other, and sometimes more radical,
robotic strategies for design. Gramazio & Kohler, in collaboration with Raffaello
d’Andrea recently put together an exhibition titled ‘Flight Assembled Architecture’ for
which small quad-rotor helicopter bots assembled a 6m-tall and 3.5m wide tower out of
1500 polystyrene foam blocks in Orléans, France.
Walmart filed five more patents for farming processes
The patent was one of six filed by Walmart, including several focused on automating agricultural processes. The supermarket chain also plans to use drones for spraying pesticides and monitoring crop conditions.
However artificial pollination has the bigger potential to significantly affect the company’s business.
According to research by Greenpeace, pollination by bees contributes $265 billion to the global economy. So, with the world’s bee population now in major decline, robotic alternatives could prove necessary to meet the global demand for food production.
Walmart isn’t the first to have invested in artificial-pollination technology. Brisbane-based artist Michael Candy recently unveiled his design for a device featuring 3D-printed robotic flowers, while a research lab in Japan recently became the first to successfully achieve pollination using a drone.
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