Anirudh RegidiSep 13, 2016 08:38:03 IST
The Autodesk University event held on 1 September in Navi Mumbai was among the largest events of its kind. As Autodesk puts it, it’s a networking and learning opportunity for participants that attracts industry bodies like Nasscom and Ficci.
Autodesk expected this year’s event (this is the fourth such event) to attract “an attendance of 4000+.” While we don’t have exact figures, we can say that the venue was quite packed. The event was host to a number of workshops and demos as well as “knowledge sessions.” On display were a great many wares from students, researchers, various startups and the like.
The India Maker Movement and Nasscom 10,000 Start-ups also co-hosted a day-long Maker festival which featured around 40 innovators and designers.
Here are the highlights from the event:
Under Armour’s 3D printed sole
Under Armour is known for making interesting footwear and their 3D-printed sole is by far the most interesting one we’ve seen. Using a process called “generative design,” Under Armour’s engineers set constraints for the sole, restricting weight, load requirements, etc. They don’t actually design the soles themselves.
The finished product is a kind of lattice structure that is strengthened in accordance with a 3D load diagram of sorts. Areas that bear more load are stronger, while others are weaker. This has apparently created a more optimal design that more efficiently handles load distribution and weight.
Once the sole is ready, Under Armour simply designs a shoe atop it.
Handiii 3D-printed arm
Created by Genta Kondo, a Japanese engineer, Handiii is a 3D-printed prosthetic arm that is meant to offer a more affordable alternative to prosthetic that is currently in the market.
Working with two friends from Panasonic, Kondo created a company called Exiii to start work on bionic arms, among other things. The electronics of the arm are pretty straight-forward, but it’s the 3D-printable aspect that makes this arm interesting. Anyone can 3D-print accessories for the arm and customise it as they see fit, either aesthetically or functionally.
The arm itself gives off some very Terminator-esque vibes and we can’t help wondering if Skynet isn’t too far away now.
The assassin drone that harvests fruit
Tucked away in a corner at the venue was an engineering student's fruit harvesting drone. It's not actually called an assassin drone, but what else would you call a drone with a pair of 6-inch, retractable knives?
Ostensibly, the purpose of the drone is to cut fruit. The entire process of harvesting fruit with a drone is rather complicated, however. You’ll need to pitch a kind of tent under the tree and then fly the drone up to every fruit and hack it off with the blades. The fruit falls and the ‘tent’ captures it.
It’s an interesting idea on paper, but it does seem very impractical in practice. The drone can only fly for about 15 minutes before needing to be recharged and it’s only capable of hacking off fruits on the periphery of a tree. It also costs Rs 38,000.
It’s only a proof-of-concept of course, and I imagine a future where drone swarms strip trees of fruit isn’t far away. That said, I still can’t shake the image of the drone as a modern assassin’s tool of choice!
Electric bicycle by Indium Design
Among the more interesting products at Autodesk University was Indium Design’s electric bicycle. These bicycles feature a 250W electric motor on the back that draws power from three 12V batteries.
Indium Design claims that the bike can hit a top speed of 30km/hr and that it has a range of 25km.
The bike’s handle features a throttle for speed control as well as a monochrome LCD panel that provides information like battery charge, weather, distance travelled, etc.
The electric motor is mounted in the rear wheel’s hub and the wheel itself is redesigned with sturdier spokes and rim to better support the sustained load of an electric motor.
Indium adds that you can pluck out the battery pack and carry it with you.
The bicycle is available in a geared and gearless version as well, and you can also purchase a separate upgrade kit. Though Indium doesn’t recommend the latter since the installation is very tricky, especially as the rear spokes and rim have to be upgraded to take the increased strain.
Another Maker Space of sorts, the MakersBox offers students and professionals access to “tools, information and support” to bring your dreams to life. They also offer learning materials and starter kits for kids (including an Arduino board).
At the event, MakersBox demoed simple robots that were designed by kids and a device that could sketch patterns on eggshells.
This institution certainly deserves a second look.
The rest of the displays mostly consisted of a bunch of 3D printers, 3D printed design prototypes by students, and more.
Students from the K.J. Somaiya Engineering college showcased their supermileage car; a car that managed 153 kmpl in testing. The students took the car to the Shell Eco-Marathon 2015, where it placed first in India and fifth in the world.
Various models of 3D Printers were on display everywhere as well, including the MakerBot Replicator.
Oh, and the Maker Auto got a fresh layer of paint!
It’s hard to describe what the Maker Movement is to people who haven’t experienced it for themselves. If you get a chance to pop over to a Makerspace or convention, do take the opportunity. It will be worth it.
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