Heliodon

Robotic Daylight Analysis Tool

Heliodon

Robotic Day Light Simulation Tool

Independent research project, under supervision of prof. Azadeh Sawyer, Summer 2020.

Heliodons are a physical simulation apparatus to help architects study the behavior of a building shape against sunlight over the span of a year.

A basic heliodon consists of a light source that produces-almost-parallel light rays a horizontal plane to contain the model of building and a mechanical system to move one of the two to mimic the sun path over an arbitrary period of time.

In this research, designed and implemented a robotic heliodon using an articulated industrial robotic arm with six-degree-of-freedom.

The sun path is calculated in Python using the Astral library. The robotic control code is generated in Grasshopper/HAL. The robot-user interactions are implemented in the RAPID programming language. All simulations are conducted in RobotStudio, the proprietary software package of ABB robots. ​​

heliodon_render.0000_3.gif

Robotic Path Planning

We utilize the HAL plug-in for Grasshopper to convert the light source poses into robot target points and toolpaths. HAL also calculates the Robot’s joint configurations as well as rotating table angles for each timestamp which helps us to visualize the process and control the process and converts them into the RAPID language which runs on ABB robots.

Modes of Analysis


Once the Grasshopper definition generates the target points, the user can load them on the robot controller using the RobotStudio interface. 
On the teaching pendant, the user can have four different forms of usage for the system:


1- Critical days' analysis

  • In this mode, the robot only simulates four critical days of a year: March 21st, June, 21st, Sep. 21st, and Dec 21st, all at noon. Having the sunlight at these four points gives us a better understanding of the overall status of the building. The robot will stop at the end of each day and ask for permission to proceed.

2- One-day analysis

  • In this mode, the user selects a date by month and day and the robot will simulate the sun path from 09:00 to 17:00. 

3- Fix hour across a year

  • In this mode, the user selects a specific time of the day and the robot will move over that time over the span of the year. 

4- Whole year simulation

  • The robot will simulate the sun path for 365 days of a year from 09:00 to 17:00. 

Robotic Path Planning

We utilize the HAL plug-in for Grasshopper to convert the light source poses into robot target points and toolpaths. HAL also calculates the Robot’s joint configurations and rotating table angles for each timestamp, which helps us visualize the process and control the process and converts them into the RAPID language, which runs on ABB robots.

Tests on the robot

We tested the system using an interchangeable frame to swap various window shaders. This system lets us compare various design alternatives using 3d printed patterns quickly.

Acknowledgment:

This project was funded by Prof. Azadeh Sawyer at the School of Architecture, CMU, 2020.