The Boeing Advanced Research Center lab at the University of Washington recently hosted an Engineering Discovery Day exhibit for the fifth year in a row. During the two-day event, more than 10,000 middle- and high-school students visit the BARC lab and meet with University of Washington students.
This year’s exhibit was led by Taylor Woo and Michelle Ko, who are the first Industrial Design and Art students to join the lab. Their vision was to inspire young visitors through virtual reality (VR) and to showcase how enormous and sophisticated Boeing robots are in real life. They showcased a 15% scaled-down Multi-Robot Cell that was displayed at waist-height level in the lab. The virtual exhibit allowed visitors to walk through and explore the cell at life-size.
After donning VR headsets, visitors found themselves at the heart of an 80,000-square-foot factory that is home to four large robots, which move about completing their tasks. While the robots tower nearly 16 feet high, visitors easily controlled and commanded the robots to follow their hands – literally providing a hands-on lesson in joint kinematics. Automated guided vehicles roved in the distance of this digital facility. Additionally, students were able to roam around and under a shell rendering of a parked 787 Dreamliner.
For most, the exhibit appeared to be a game, but its scope is much more than that. The experience represents the potential future of robot programming where demanding coding on a monitor may someday be superseded by an intuitive virtual 3D interface. The hope is that one or more of the enthusiastic lab visitors will one day return to lead such an effort.
This year’s Discovery Days Exhibit is an example of the BARC lab’s commitment to continually explore new ways of leveraging the student talent available through the academic partnership – going beyond the College of Engineering. Expect to see more development in the near future as the BARC lab prepares to make use of its newly acquired visual concepting and design talent.
For more information on the BARC lab or to inquire about collaborative projects, please visit the website at https://Depts.Washington.edu/BARC.
By Jonathan Ahn