Thursday, April 12, 2007

ICRA Day 2

Today's Plenary Talk was a surprisingly interesting one. Surprising because the topic was factory automation. It was given by UCBerkeley professor (and former CMU alum) Ken Goldberg. The goal of his talk was to propose ways to make the design of assembly-line machines more algorithmic (Putting the Turing in Manufacturing it was called.). The most interesting piece was some research he did on designing part alignment machines. Apparently getting parts in the right alignment so that they can then be assembled by machines is one of the most time-consuming parts of automated manufacturing.

Anyway, there's a Java applet where you can design your own 2D part and it will show you the series of 'grips' needed to put any starting alignment into one unique ending alignment. Check it out.

Actually, if you're going to try out this tool (you should cause it's really neat) you should try basic rectangles first, then their whole algorithm will make a lot more sense.


  1. That's a really kickass demo...

    I think I saw that guy talk at the IC in 2001. It was a pretty neat talk.

    BTW: once an alum, always an alum...

  2. Maybe I'm missing something, but the last step of that demo only rotates in 180 degrees, not a full 360. Make an very narrow obtuse triangle. Notice that the most acute angle is always in only two quadrants. Try (-135, 90), (75, -80), (135, -90). The most acute angle is only in 1 and 4. Is it supposed to be like that? The description makes it sound like it covers the full rotation.

    Cool regardless though.