Robotic Art and Soft Robotics



Recommended prerequisites:
It is recommended that the student has a general basic knowledge of electronics and experience with programming a microcontroller (e.g. Arduino).

Learning objectives - Knowledge:
- Describe and explain characteristics of historical main currents in robotic art from the 1960s until today
- Demonstrate familiarity with selected seminal robotic artworks
- Demonstrate knowledge of soft robotics applications, design methods, control, and fabrication techniques

Learning objectives - Skills:
- Analyze and compare robotic artworks
- Design, compose, construct, and evaluate soft robotics prototypes for art purposes or for a human-robot interaction experiment
- Reflect on how artistic and aesthetic approaches to robotics differ from an engineering perspective and present arguments for their relevance

Learning objectives - Competences:
- Conceive an idea for a soft robotic artwork or a prototype for an interaction experiment and execute it, drawing on knowledge of existing work and techniques.
- Apply the methods of iterative, incremental development in the construction of a soft robotic prototype.

The course is an interdisciplinary introduction to robotic art and soft robotics as well as recent work and research that bridges these two fields. The teaching encompasses theoretical and practical work on both robotic art and soft robotics.
The student will gain knowledge about artistic uses of robotics technology from the period that stretches from the 1960s until today through reading texts about robotic artworks written by art historians, media art scholars, and artists and by studying selected seminal artworks. The theoretical part of the course will also cover short introductions to philosophical aesthetics and practice-based artistic research methodology. Contemporary projects by artists, designers, and architects that explore the aesthetic potentials of soft robotics technology will also be surveyed.
The second emphasis of the course is on soft robotics – a novel class of robotic components and systems constructed from soft materials (e.g. silicone rubbers) with an elastic modulus in the range of that of soft biological matter. An introduction will be given to the main areas of contemporary soft robotics research (actuators, sensors, control, design, fabrication, applications), the technology’s benefits, and different fabrication techniques for constructing silicone-based soft robots will be covered in-depth.
Alongside the historical, theoretical, and methodological study, students will gain hands on experience working with soft robotics through lab excercises and work on a final group project (a prototype of an artwork or a soft robot to be used in a human-robot interaction experiment).

Teaching Method:
1 weekly lecture and lab of 4 hours in total for 12 weeks
The course is held as a project course and is a mixture of theory and practice.
Introductory lectures and interactive lab tutorials will be given at the beginning of the course as introductions to the covered areas. Students should expect to hand in assignments based on the labs and to prepare a few presentations for this part of the course.

For the remaining part of the course, students will work on a final project (approved by the lecturer) in groups or individually under supervision, and study relevant prior work and literature on their own.
A report on the final project is to be handed-in at the end of the course. If the final project is done as a group project, the final report can also be handed-in as a group report

Examination regulations:
In order to take the exam, the mandatory assignments must be completed.
Criteria for taking the exam will be fixed before semester start and stated in the course syllabus.

Form of examination:
Individual oral exam (25 mins.) based on final project report. The final project and the final report count towards the final grade.

The student receives a grade on the 7 point grading scale

Second examiner: Internal

Elective course open to students from all study programs.
The course can be taken by both bachelor and master students.
Due to lab constraints and materials budget the course is limited to an uptake of 30 students.
ECTS-point5,0 ECTS