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UCLA Architectural Program Teaches Design for Robot Homes

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the more-than-meets-the-eye dept.

Robotics 35

Lucas123 writes: "UCLA has created a graduate-level program that teaches architects how to design intelligent robotic buildings that are able to change their configuration to adapt to their owners' needs. The design are not limited to homes, of course, and could be used in office buildings or hotels. For example, a hotel could switch out a small bathroom in a guest room for a larger one that comes to the room along the outside façade of the building. Factories could also be transformed based on changing needs. Students in the program are working to come up with a more dynamic building, possibly one that has moving platforms or walls that could adapt the building for manufacturing different sized aircraft or products."

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Seems like some out the movie CUBE (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 10 months ago | (#46128289)

Seems like some out the movie CUBE

Re:Seems like some out the movie CUBE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46128295)

Seems like some out the movie CUBE

Wow you ALMOST wrote your very first correct sentence! Seriously, get some remedial English instruction. You need it badly. With time and practice and a little discipline, you will soon be able to write at the level we expect of children in elementary school!

Re:Seems like some out the movie CUBE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46128593)

Seems like some out the movie CUBE

Wow you ALMOST wrote your very first correct sentence! Seriously, get some remedial English instruction. You need it badly. With time and practice and a little discipline, you will soon be able to write at the level we expect of children in elementary school!

That should be 'time, practice, and a little discipline.' Perhaps taking your own advice is warranted.

Re:Seems like some out the movie CUBE (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 10 months ago | (#46128467)

More like Isaac Asimov's Robot City. (He didn't write the series, but I loved the idea.)

Re:Seems like some out the movie CUBE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46130013)

Enter the time where people start getting crushed between moving walls... I can't do anything this weekend; funerals to attend. My buddy Flap-Jack and his friend Pancake... They were painting a office building when their highly educated mexican co-worked started flipping switches... Then came the screams, "Oh, my juice box!"

Wait, what about homes for robots? (2)

guacamole (24270) | about 10 months ago | (#46128293)

Someone has to design those too.

Re:Wait, what about homes for robots? (1)

jimshatt (1002452) | about 10 months ago | (#46128323)

Would that be robot robot homes, or just normal ones? BTW robot homes are already quite well described in Futurama. Ample closet room, in any case.

Re:Wait, what about homes for robots? (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46129761)

What about homes for people?

For example, a hotel could switch out a small bathroom in a guest room for a larger one that comes to the room along the outside façade of the building.

I just don't see this working, or being something anyone wants. At least not in a hotel.

Sounds like you give up your window view when a bigger bathroom gets bolted onto your room.
Do these things play leap frog, or what? How does it get to your room, especially if someone on the same X-Y coordinates also requested a big bathroom?
And when your massive bulging throne blocks the view of an adjacent room, does no one bitch?
I'm not convinced all of the plumbing issues could be handled simply. (or aesthetically - I envision an accumulation of stains on the facade over the decades).

Don't get me wrong, I think something like this might work, but not for whimsical things like wanting a two seater and tub instead of shower.

I can see buildings becoming an infrastructure of sockets, into which you plug various modals depending on the needs of individual renters. Shop for them in show-rooms, delivered in two days. These aren't going to be automatically sliding along your exterior facade, they will arrive by truck, from off site storage/prep site, and would be scissor jacked (or craned) into position and slid into the number of sockets the apartment owner rented. Probably not doable in much above 3 or 4 floors high, just due to the risk involved. Construction would have to be very light-weight and modular with standardized connectors for water, gas, electrical and sewer. (Translation: A vertical Trailer-Park. Forget about marble facilities, granite counters, and tile floors).

Changes would be a big deal. Probably taking an entire day in the best of cases. When people move, they might literally "move house" as the British say, and take their existing dwelling with them to a different socket structure.

But that would only work for apartments and condos, and perhaps offices, where people stay for an extended period of time, and it would not be convenient or cheap to change out parts. Pre-fab doesn't work as well as most people like to believe.

Re:Wait, what about homes for robots? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 10 months ago | (#46130909)

What about homes for people?

For example, a hotel could switch out a small bathroom in a guest room for a larger one that comes to the room along the outside façade of the building.

I just don't see this working, or being something anyone wants. At least not in a hotel.

Sounds like you give up your window view when a bigger bathroom gets bolted onto your room.

Or when someone above you orders a bigger bathroom. In a building of sufficient size, you could have your view blocked by an translating lavatory every few minutes.

All of a sudden I want to re-watch Brazil.

Architecture Geeks (4, Interesting)

bmajik (96670) | about 10 months ago | (#46128305)

I recommend reading the Christopher Alexander Books: "The Timeless Way of Building", "A Pattern Language", etc.

These are the books that the Gang of Four read that inspired the software design patterns movement. So there's that tie in.

But the other reason to read them is to encounter an entirely different philosophy about why and how to build things.

So while the geek in me reacts to this headline with, "cool! Moving walls that reconfigure themselves! How efficient", the part of me that has read Alexander asks some questions:

How will this make users of the building feel?
Is ease of reconfiguration the most important design quality in a space?
How will it impact people when the space they live and work in changes overnight?

Also, don't read the Alexander books if you've just changed house. You'll walk around your new place frustrated at all of the faults you didn't know were faults :)

Re:Architecture Geeks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46128597)

The wear and tear that the constant motion and repositioning will put in the house raises questions as to its survivability.

Plus, with movable walls, there will be plenty of cracks for sound to seep through, which is terrible for intimacy. As it is, my neighbors can hear me fuck through the "solid" walls of my apartment. Since I bought my 4-inch penis extender, my ladies have been much louder, so loud that my upstairs neighbor starts vacuuming her house whenever she hears a female voice in my apartment. Now, My next-door neighbor, whom I call "Fuckhead," I do not feel bad for him. One time during a screamingly loud romp on my bed, which is against the wall "Fuckhead" and I share, "Fuckhead" started pounding on the wall in protest -- only to have my lady date scream, "Fuck you!" while she and I giggled sheepishly.

That dick extender is no joke. Every man should have a 2-inch and a 4-inch, and remember, start with the biggest and work your way down. If you start with the smallest and work your way up it's more awkward for your lady. But yeah, movable, reconfigurable architecture -- it's seems more like a fad class than anything, but its UCLA which is 99% Asian, and Asians always think of weird transforming robots and shit.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Many engineering hurdles (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 10 months ago | (#46128307)

It seems like this is more in the gee-whiz category than anything practical and they seem to have the class more because it is cool than because they expect this to happen anytime soon. A few parts of the article stand out:

"Think about how much space you need in a typical house today, and how much of it you use at a given time," Olds said. "If the house could dynamically reconfigure itself to match your daily routine, you could find yourself being much happier in less space and using less energy. For example, a room could be configured as an office during the day, with a media wall that is used as a business display. But at night, it could be a living room, and then it could transform into a bedroom."

But much of the rest of the world outside the US has much smaller houses already. People here have massive houses not because they need to but because they apparently want to. This is especially true in the suburbs where the rooms are often much larger than they need to accomplish their goals. Large houses are status symbols and the size of American houses has little connection to what is practically necessary. Maybe this might work better in Europe or if it were restricted in the US to urban centers? The article also acknowledges problems with other ideas, such as how they discuss modular bathrooms but then acknowledge that getting all the pipes and the like to fit would be difficult. And nothing here even begins to touch on the many issues there would be with building codes.

Re:Many engineering hurdles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46129957)

Actual examples of robot houses today are those automatic car parking systems taking the vehicle with an automatic (robotic) elevator right up to your condo. The example of modifying basic room divide is difficult for other reasons like property value and taxes as well.
  Utility might be better in a larger setting if those robots would be functioning as smart, partition walls and give room for cleaning robots for example. Certifying a robotic wall to function under fire, perhaps with the suppression system might be quite an interesting challenge. "A speeding, truck loading robot gone robot-crazy? No worries human, the hug-walls are here to help, and contain the disturbed bugger from all sides."

Bah! (5, Funny)

sycodon (149926) | about 10 months ago | (#46128335)

They still haven't figured out how to build a home you can get a couch, fridge, or other appliances into without needing 4 guys and lots of padding on the walls.

Re:Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46128351)

Did it with two guys here.

They had these straps that went under the fridge and carried it on their shoulders.

Re:Bah! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46128743)

This is not the appropriate forum to discuss how or where you did it with two guys and a strap-on.

Re:Bah! (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46129821)

They still haven't figured out how to build a home you can get a couch, fridge, or other appliances into without needing 4 guys and lots of padding on the walls.

Build the unit around the Fridge. Want a new fridge, order a new kitchen.

You scoff? Try to replace some random part in your dishwasher like the soap dispenser. Not sold without entire sub-assembly.

Great Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46128449)

If you can jump from moving platform to moving platform while avoiding these walls, you might be able to save the princess.

Perhaps the editor meant "robotic homes"? (1)

hey! (33014) | about 10 months ago | (#46128463)

I've noticed a tendency recently of adjectives being pared down to adjectival nouns. At first it was just Republican politicians talking about the the "Democrat Party", but it seems to have spread all over the place. I was at truck stop last year which boasted "artisan egg breakfast sandwiches"; my reaction was that I'd rather take the artisan egg home and see what hatched out.

These sound impractical (1)

hessian (467078) | about 10 months ago | (#46128475)

We have trouble making buildings whose internal components like elevators and water pumps last more than a decade before failing. Most of our buildings don't look like they'll last more than 3-4 decades.

The real robotics we're going to put into buildings is smart utilities that track people, sense needs, respond to emergencies and maintain a comfortable environment. In addition, as we overpopulate and thus pollute to toxic levels, they're going to filter all air and water so their occupants don't die of rapid growth cancers.

Re:These sound impractical (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about 10 months ago | (#46128509)

Here's an interesting fact: you're not breathing real air. It's too expensive to pump this far down. We just take carbon dioxide out of a room, freshen it up a little, and pump it back in. So you'll be breathing the same room full of air for the rest of your life. I thought that was interesting.

Just testing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46128545)

Points to the first architect who calls the control program GLaDOS.

Houses, no. Factories, yes. (1)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#46128583)

The article says "factories are static". In reality, only factories for long production runs are static. Many factories are constantly setting up production lines, running them for weeks or months, then reconfiguring for a different product. This is expensive, slow, and often requires a completely different workforce than the one used during operation.

The ability to set up a production line with robots would be useful. One reason that production lines for smartphones are so manual is that the product life cycle is so short. The production engineering and plant setup time is long for a robotic assembly line. Faster line changeover would be a big win for fast-changing product lines.

One of the better robotics ideas of the 1980s was a pair of small, cooperating forklift-type robots. A pair of these could pick up and move a couch much bigger than the robots. It's time to revive that idea.

what if microsoft ran all of this ? (1)

KernelMuncher (989766) | about 10 months ago | (#46128607)

If microsoft software ran all of these building changes it would bring a new meaning to the phrase "blue screen of death" - falling out of the building when a wall accidentally opens up or getting crushed by a moving toilet

already finished (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 10 months ago | (#46128611)

They made a movie about one of these homes called The Cube. When I get a Cube of my own, I would love to have my in-laws come to the housewarming party.

Can the Slashdot mobile site get any worse?? (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 10 months ago | (#46128903)

Sorry for posting this off-topic but there is no other place to post this, so...
The mobile site:
- lousy view and navigation - confusing display of mod points
- no way to view normal site... mobile site is mandatory
- doesn't remember my login
- moderation doesn't work
- can't change view by mod points (outstanding, etc. categories are broken)
Breaking news! Now, just added!!! "popover" ads that won't go away!!!
I had an obnoxious ad for a survey overlay the site. Won't close.
In desperation, I even clicked on it to take the survey (and entered bogus information to screw up their responses) but still the ad won't go away!
(I'm using Chrome browser on Nexus7... if that makes any difference).

Re:Can the Slashdot mobile site get any worse?? (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46129841)

Solution: Don't use the mobile site.

Move along now.

Re:Can the Slashdot mobile site get any worse?? (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 10 months ago | (#46130107)

I would if I could (see second point in my post).
Even when I type slashdot.org I end up with m.slashdot.org
If I set Chrome to "Request desktop site" it "forgets" this setting so I have to do it each time.

Re:Can the Slashdot mobile site get any worse?? (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46130159)

type www.slashdot.org.

I never have this problem, and I use three different browsers on my android devices.

Ugh. (1)

westlake (615356) | about 10 months ago | (#46129453)

For example, a hotel could switch out a small bathroom in a guest room for a larger one that comes to the room along the outside facade of the building.

Giving new meaning to the words "Porta-Potty."

If you think that is the image the four star hotel wants to project, think again. The mechanical complexities make the idea insane. You will need cranes and tracks. Earthquake rated anchorage, Perfect-seal plumbing and electrics...

American homes are large because nowhere outside of Manhattan Island did population densities ever reach the levels you see in Europe and Asia. Building materials remain readily available and economies of scale and efficiencies in distribution make them affordable.

You don't need the McMansion to live comfortably.

More importantly, Americans ultimately rebel against the compression and confinement of the big city.

In popular culture, the Kramdens remain trapped in a cold water flat, the Ricardos, with greater resources, begin travelling widely and ultimately settle down in suburban Connecticut --- following the path pioneered by their real-life middle class audience.

Re:Ugh. (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#46129913)

There is one place it might work: Vertical Trailer Parks.

This guy [treehugger.com] seems to think you could sell it with custom trailer modules.

But I think it could be done much cheaper, and accept current trailer models, with just a steel infrastructure and some large (frame traveling) lift facility. With 3 or 4 feet of crawl space between floors to deal with plumbing, gas and electric, you could stack them three to 8 stories high with no problem, and even supply a balcony walk way for those models that have doors on both sides.

On demand bathroom (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 10 months ago | (#46129785)

I particularly like the idea of an on-demand bathroom, that crawls around the outside of a building... the many security cameras within the building are constantly monitoring your pulse and other health related data - when it looks like you will need to go to the restroom soon the bathroom moves to your location and a portal opens silently beside you, your embedded smart arm implant beckoning you to take a leak while the matter is not yet urgent.

That, and robots that forcibly stuff a cat inside themselves to a waiting litter box if it seems like the cat is about to pee on anything.

There is no limit to the awesomeness possible when restroom needs are magically met.

The tech sounds familiar... (1)

biochozo (2700157) | about 10 months ago | (#46130507)

Simply place this weighted cube on the button and open the door to your expanded bathroom! Your house will record your progress... for science. Mind the gap.

Werner Sobek's r129 (1)

digitect (217483) | about 10 months ago | (#46158733)

IAAA. Forget robots, Warner Sobek's R129 house is genius.

Check it out in the PBS e^2 series, part 6/6, at 20:07 [youtube.com] .

Back up to 18:55 to see the beginning of Sobek's ideas.

Watch the whole series if you have the time.

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