In our latest Design Tech class, we had to create and design a robot that could make art. First, we individually thought of a few ideas by ourselves. Then we were put into teams of three where we shared our ideas on how to design a robot to make art.

I had several ideas for how the robot could make art. For example, the robot's arm could have been a paint brush that would flick up and down making a splatter pattern. The robot could have also been given feet that were made of sponges. The sponges would be covered in paint, so when the robot "walked" it would leave a trail of footprints.

We had some constraints of what materials we could use and how big the robot could be. We where given a list of the materials that we could use to construct our robot ( see list above). We were also given a box to store our robot in and the robot had to be able to fit inside the box with the lid closed.

Once we discussed our ideas as a group of three, we discovered we had similar ideas of how we wanted the robot to make art. We decided that we wanted the robot to paint, but not with a paint brush. We wanted the robot to have a paint box with two holes over two wheels. As the robot moved the paint would drip onto the wheels leaving a trail of paint on the paper.

In our original sketch we wanted the robot to be built on wheels and have the paint drip onto them. We also wanted our robot to have arms that would flick paint as the robot moved. In the end, with the time constraint, we decided just use the wheel ideas and not make arms that painted.

The materials we used to make our robot were pieces of laser cut cardboard to make the paint box and the box to hold the hummingbird. We lined the paint box with tin foil to make it paint and waterproof. We also 3D printed the wheels and stand to keep the paint box aloft over the wheels.

At first we wanted the robot to have six wheels in total. The two large wheels were for the paint to drip onto and the four smaller wheels were to stabilize the boxes.

The four smaller wheels didn't quite fit so they didn't stabilize the hummingbird and paint box as we had planned. We then tried using half a cork as the stabilizer, but the cork didn't work either. In the end we used a flat piece of wood covered in tin foil so it would slide smoothly over the paper.

Another challenge we had was how to keep the motor attached to the wheel. We originally thought to use velcro to stick it on, but the velcro only made the motor stop altogether. Then we tried to tape the motor to the wheel and the tape kept getting twisted in the with wires. In the end we stuck the motor driveshaft into the slot in the wheel and it worked quite well, but it occasionally fell out.

Below is a picture of our final result. In the end our robot made purple trails of art across the paper. Altogether I think it was pretty successful because the robot moved and the paint dripped at the right pace, not to fast or to slow.

I feel the project pushed my design skills and taught me how to use machines in the design lab that I had not used before. While working on the project we came across different challenges. Next time, I now know that I might need to try different approaches when things go wrong and and not be to ambitious with my original design. In the beginning I thought that our original design would work successfully, but by the end I realized that you need to be flexible and change your design as you go.

Another team took a very different approach to the project. They had an arm that was made out of three cardboard pieces linked together and a sponge at the end. The motor would then flick the arm into a paint box, then flick it in the opposite direction splattering paint on a piece of paper. I learned that even though their robot itself did not move, there is still a lot of motion with the arm flicking back and forth.

Another idea for a project that uses sensors and motors could be a box that is fitted with a motion sensor. When a person wants to retrieve an item from the box, they would just just need to wave their hand in front of the sensor and the motor would push the doors open. Once the person had left if the sensor detected no more motion the doors would then automatically close again.

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