Robot Swarm at the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)
Robot Swarm is a full-body interactive experience that is based on a hot-topic in the robotics world right now: the mathematics of emergent behavior. Visitors to the Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) will have the opportunity to step into the ring and come foot-to-face with a colony of horseshoe-crab-shaped creatures who will monitor your movement and react based on a series of behavioral commands. Sound fun? IT IS!
The museum is calling Robot Swarm The nation’s most technologically ambitious robotics exhibit ever. Controlled by a touch-screen panel on the outer-edge of the exhibit, visitors choose from five different scenarios (including On Your Marks, Run Away, Swarm, Pursue and Robophobia) which will then provide a set of rules to the robot colony below. Not only will the robots take into account the visitor’s location in order to perform these rules, but they will also use the locations of their neighboring inhabitants to execute their tasks. If you have ever wondered what it felt like to be Godzilla descending upon a city full of fleeing man-made creatures, or have ever had the urge to literally watch lines of computer code come to life before your eyes, then Robot Swarm will certainly not disappoint.
New Project has been fortunate enough to work with MoMath on a number of projects since its inception. Since then, we have served as one of the museum’s primary fabrication and installation companies. Last year, alongside Tim Nissen-MoMath’s Chief of Design, Three Byte Intermedia-a local technology consulting firm, and Knowledge Resources of Basel, Switzerland, we began working on the fabrication and installation of MoMath’s newest interactive exhibit Robot Swarm which will open to the public on Sunday, December 14th.
Beneath your feet, the robots, equipped with unique personalities and characteristics, will react to your every step based on the rules provided to them. Quite frankly, Three-Byte Intermedia and Knowledge Resources have blown our minds with their creations. Stay tuned to our blog when we sit down and chat with Chris Keitel, Principal at Three-Byte Intermedia about the project.
We’ve helped MoMath realize an exhibit that had been on their minds since the museum was first built. New Project helped bring their clean, industrial looking structure to reality to serve as the largest robotic home for coolest colony of robots. The display consists of a pressurized structural steel and glass contained frame that creates the robots playground and their docking and service stations. The overall structure suggests a boxing ring. Once in the ring you’ll be captivated by the uncanny movement of the robots triggering your instinctual desire to either fight or flee. The framing structure sits atop a wood chassis which was all built here at our shop in Brooklyn and then relocated and permanently installed on the lower level of the museum.
The swarm of robots are sealed beneath glass so that they and all of their delicate components are protected from visitors and other harmful materials. We had to make sure that the entire structure was built like a reverse vacuum, pushing out all dirt and dust from the museum.
Perhaps the biggest challenge we faced while installing the exhibit was the lowering and the placement of two large glass panels each weighing in at almost 2,000 lbs. The panels, which would later become the floor of the exhibit, were placed into a storage area at the time of the museum’s construction, as the glass would be too large to be able to fit down the stairwell once the stairs were built. Basically, that gave us one shot to get it right. If they broke, there was no way to replace them.
No pressure guys no pressure.
Luckily, our installation team is amazing and, using custom-made dollies, and gantry that barely fit, and a set of carefully-placed car jacks, the glass panels were lowered into place over a two-night installation without a hitch. As you would expect, Terry was pretty stoked about it.
Once Robot Swarm is open to the public we’ll post videos and photos of the exhibit in use, stay tuned! To experience our creation first-hand, check out Robot Swarm at MoMath, located at 11 East 26th Street in Manhattan. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
think and build