For the 2017 Tallinn Architecture Biennale, Noumane has presented its installation based on the future of robots and its adaptability to the environment. Deep learning has paved the way for machines to expand beyond narrow capabilities to soon achieve human-level performance on intellectual tasks.
As Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) establishes its place in the human race, society will need to develop a framework for both to thrive. A new form of artificial life will emerge, finding space at the peripheries of humanity in order to not compete for human-dominated resources. A.I will attempt to improve its operating surroundings to not just survive but be self-sustaining, forming the basis of a civilisation constrained at the intersection of nature and technology.
Barcelonian based practice, Noumena, has developed a framework to build this narrative based on the cross-disciplinary intersection of computational design, mechanical and electronic design, rapid prototyping interaction and mapping. Nowadays, computing tools, as well as rapid prototyping machines, allow to have a quick practical feedback on design solutions and to iterate experimenting different possibility at the same time giving the chance to choose and custom a functional part.
Ecology has been one of the topics that have driven the design decisions of this project. Noumena's proposed robots seek nature as the main inspiration and the decisions adapt and integrate form and function. There are technical requirements that have been embedded into the design process that mostly expresses itself in the carapace skin that works as a multi-functional layer; it protects the electronics internally and from the outside, it performs as the substrate of bacterial growth guiding its proliferation through nervatures that characterises the surface displacement.
All the projections are produced in Max MSP, animating a transforming landscape which is built over the different columns hosting the new generation of robots. At the back part of the rover, the carapace opens, revealing the spinal column that host its terminal part, which is the injection system used to release materials in the landscape. This tool consists of peristaltic pump built and adapted to easily integrate into the last spine.
Noumena's whole installation is organised around a frame of 5x5 m completely filled with sand over which the robots are performing all interactive and additive fabrication performances. As a fixed installation there are also 3 columns collecting the nutrients deposited by the moving robots. Those columns are incubating the new robots, shaped to mould endless shells of bacterias skin that will be covering the next generation, organically evolving into an autonomous and self-sufficient entity, no longer simply organic and no longer simply artificial.
You can learn more about the project by indulging in the video below.