Proposal to Nautilus 2016 (ongoing), collaborated with Jifei Ou and Lining Yao
We are developing a deployable kinetic scaffold for potential applications including coral and other marine habitat restorations, and ecological ocean farms. Our computationally generated scaffolds have a few suitable advantages: 1) It is foldable and deployable. It can be transported as a flat piece and deployed into a 3D structure underwater; 2) It is parametric. We can tune the unit sizes, surface areas, geometry, material options as well as local structural stability in our software platform before the physical construction. It was known that the landscapes will affect the diversity of the corals, which will affect the diversity of fishes being attracted. The A.I. assisted design interface in our system can potentially enable the programmability of the ecological diversity.
The coral reefs at different locations around the world have experienced unprecedented declines. Local coral reefs protect coastal areas and provide valuable habitat for fish and invertebrates. Without them, dramatic changes are seen with reef life and stability. H ow we can build underwater structures to restore the ecosystem, is the central question we are asking in this proposal.
For the long run, we are interested in creating open ecosystems and open ocean farms through the restoration or creation of coral reefs. It is well studied that coral reefs are natural sea food farms. C urrent ocean farming, as a second but also highly relevant topic, has its own challenges. Fish wastes, excess food, fish escapes, antibiotics, and various chemicals from fish farms can all result in water pollution and harm surrounding habitats by poisoning wildlife and causing other disturbances. With our programmable, deployable structures, there is hope to create “open ocean farms”, where underwater organisms (plants and animals) are attracted to grow within the structures, form new ecosystems and free to circulate in the larger, open underwater world to create “bluegreen economy”.
It has been welladapted to use origami principles in the design of solar panels structure of spaceship, where the structure can be easily folded to save space during the
launching of the spaceship, and unfolded after it reaches to the destination. We realize that the current method of designing and deploying coral reef restoration structures
could use similar strategy. We have been working on a foldable structure that can be applied to arbitrary 3D shape, and can be compressed into one flat piece for easier
transportation. The transformation between flat and volumetric form can be automatic once it is deployed on site (without electric motors). The idea is that this structure can
become scaffold for coral growth and habitat for other ocean species (fish, etc.).
Designers can easily explore the design possibilities by acquiring real-time feedback from the system. (a) interactive simulation (b) structure units building user
interface (c) AI and simulation algorithm editing panel.
The AI assisting features include:
1. Automatically set up the relation between modular units
2. Solve the constraints and inform the user when trying to place a new unit
DFS and OPT Search for finding loops in the linkage system and count DOFs
Constraint propagation for checking dead loops in the linkages system
3. Speeder and interactive simulation
Using the analyzed topology to do Tree Traversal and solve equilibriums
4. High-level movement analysis and learning (under development)
Use Machine Learning to do pattern recognition of the global topology relationships, and further speed up and simplify the design process
The system can also generate and validate new cubic structure which can fit to underwater landscape. If we can get a scanned data of underwater landscape, our platform
can generate and simulate a proper structure model for it in seconds.
For the initial prototyping, we will use 3D printable polymer/ABS to improve the folding structure. For the test in Woods Hole and deployment on Nautilus, we will test either
concrete or iron panels.
We have got in touch with researchers from MIT/Woods Hole joint program to run preliminary test in water tanks that contains circulated ocean water in April and May of
2016. Webcam will be installed for monitoring. The goal is the see at small scale, how the structure can be unfolding in water and if the chosen material is suitable for coral/fish habiting.