At the intersections of robotics, art, technology, and collaboration: A Robot Drawing Workshop with the Pitt Pirates Robotics Team

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Research

The Pitt Pirates Robotics Team (PPR) participated in a two-day workshop to learn about and build drawing robots. The drawing robots are tools with basic moving capabilities (forward, backward, right, and left) that draw on a large canvas via a web browser interface. The students from PPR were highly engaged with the technology and system of tools under investigation in this workshop. They represented middle school and high school students from Pitt County schools, North Carolina who are specifically interested in robotics, programming, and technology.

The workshop activities included building a drawing robot, which was programmed using a raspberry pi. The pi was flashed with our drawbots software package which is available via github. The students built the robots and then used terminal to access their robot via its IP address, which was assigned by our access point/network. 

For the remaining duration, participants worked with the tools to explore, experiment, and play with the different digital and analog making activities to understand the technologies in use. Through this process, they were encouraged to build beyond the steps provided to construct and contribute their own ideas. 

The workshop was designed and implemented to address the socio-technical systems that emerge when people work collaboratively ‘through and with’ augmented technical tools in a design making process. The workshop attempted to (1) foster new ways of thinking and making through play and experimentation (2) affect social interactions and empower people to become producers (3) affect relationships between collaborators and the technologies in use through transparent processes.

The results of this investigation were submitted as part of a new publication called “Critical and Collaborative Making with Augmented Tools” in the conference proceedings of DRS 2020 (Design Research Society) Conference that will be held next August in Brisbane, Australia.

For additional information about this research, see a previous investigation with the robots in a museum setting and a previously published paper. This research is completed in collaboration with Rebecca Tegtmeyer, Associate Professor in Graphic Design at Michigan State University.

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