This week marks substantial completion of the Georgia Institute of Technology Robotarium, a 775 SF “terrarium for robots” as Director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Robotics & Intelligent Machines Magnus Egerstedt calls it.
In a YouTube interview Egerstedt describes how people from around the world can use the Robotarium to run robotics experiments. “People can upload code online… You can run your experiments on our robots, get the data back, and in that way become a real robotic scientist without having to worry about actually maintaining a robotic facility.”
The HERA design team worked collaboratively with Georgia Tech and the College of Engineering to create a space that would meet all the functional needs of the department and create a unique home for these cutting-edge experiments.
One project goal was to create a theater-like environment to engage the entire campus in the robotics program. A window opening into the corridor allows viewing from outside the room, and the banquette seating allows viewing from inside room.
A 12-foot by 14-foot white rectangular solid surface serves as the arena, where all the experiments occur. Hidden along the perimeter of the arena floor are 76 slots that house 152 charging cells where the robots will dock to charge. Above the arena is a drop-ceiling soffit, which follows the outline of arena floor below. That soffit frames the audio-visual track that sits within and supports all the AV equipment such as projectors and visual and tracking cameras.
The soffit transitions to a curved ceiling, which rolls down the wall and meets the top of the banquette seating area. Affectionately nicknamed “The Swoosh,” this wall is accentuated by curved resin panels in Georgia Tech “old gold,” and placed in a staggered pattern to suggest a sense of movement.
A control hub within the room allows faculty and students to instruct the robots on the arena floor, with the live video feed displayed and projected on two large screens above the workstation. This video can be seen by viewers in the room and around the world, because the new Robotarium is a place on Georgia Tech’s campus designed for the world to use.