Dr. Raffaelo D’Andrea’s talk was the most inspiring lectures of the entire series. As a designer, I was drawn to all of his creative ‘inventions’ which were concepts built into successful products using complex heuristic strategies. What made his lecture interesting was the ability of the audience to view his revolutionary concepts through videos, and listen to the collaborative, multidisciplinary efforts required to achieve them with the help of engineers, computer scientists and industrial designers.
One of his comments that I really valued was his opinion of simplicity in design in his creations. He mentioned that working with the basic functional components of a system usually determine the aesthetics of the final product. Elaborating on his way of working, he talked about how he commences on a project with a basic concept to fulfill a specific requirement. Eventualy, through a design process of intricate computation he achieves the complex behavior envisioned for the intial concept for the product. The aesthetics he mentioned, evolved around the requirements of the concept. This is evident in the ‘Robotic Chair’ and ‘The Table’. Even though both creations are technologically highly sophisticated and complex, instead of being designed to sport a modern appearance in furniture trends, they have the minimal physical aesthetics of basic wooden furniture.
Dr. D’Andrea did not offer his views on the future of robotics. However, among all the work that he shared in his lectures, I enjoyed Kiva the most. It is the closest experience I have encountered to the creation of intelligent robots in the real world to replace human labor.