Kinetic art installation: ‘An Accident Waiting to Happen’

‘An Accident Waiting to Happen’ was an art installation created by the Autonomous Systems Lab, and debuted at Kinetica Art Fair 2011. The piece consists of an organic table, on top of which sits a ceramic vase. As observers move closer to the table, the vase comes to life and slides around the table, reacting to the positions of people standing around it. The vase approaches the edge of the table, and hangs on as it teeters over the side, occasionally breaking its ‘spiritual’ bond with the table and crashing to the floor. Continue reading


12-zone perimeter detection from 6 ultrasonic sensors

The proximity sensing in ‘An Accident Waiting to Happen’ was done by a PICAXE 28X2 microcontroller, reading 6 Devantech SRF-10 ultrasonic sensors mounted around the perimeter of the table. The PICAXE board was programmed in PBASIC using their proprietary IDE. The detection cones of the 6 sensors overlapped slightly, so there were area where an observer would only be detected by one sensor, and also areas in between these where they would be detected by 2 sensors. This gave us 12 ‘zones’ in which to detect objects. Proximity readings were taken by the 6 sensors in sequence, and this was output to the PLC as a 4-bit parallel signal representing which zone had the closest object. Continue reading

Interactive positioning of an object on a circular table

Here’s a little more insight into how the Accident Waiting to Happen table worked:

6 Ultrasonic sensors were arranged around the perimeter of the table. When observers stood in the range of these sensors, the PICAXE perimeter detection system picked up where the nearest person was standing and a Festo PLC moved the object away from them. The table mechanism consisted of a linear actuator, attached centrally to a 180 degree rotary actuator.  This allowed enough freedom of movement to position the object anywhere on the circular table. Continue reading

Heineken Robot

Heineken Robot is an autonomous robotic bartender developed by ASL. The robot was developed from a ‘fun’ installation created for Kinetica Art Fair 2010. The project brief was to build, to a tight budget, a robot that could serve a cup of beer from an off-the-shelf mini beer keg. Continue reading

Random ‘Art’ Robot

The results of a 1-(long)-day project with ASL colleague Darren Lewis to build a robot to produce random works of ‘art’.Whether the work of a machine can truly be classed as art is still debatable, but the task of writing a computer program to generate pseudo-random movements was not without it’s challenges. Continue reading