The Hive is what HingePoint believes to be the most interesting and innovative exhibit we saw at Autodesk University 2015.

This “hut like” contraption is made with bamboo and cannot be completed by humans or machines alone. It can only be built by using a human participant working directly with Autodesk’s UR-10 robots. The participant allows the robot to create each unique part, and then uses an Apple Watch to guide the robot to a specific location for part install! What???

You had to see it to believe it!

HingePoint was on the scene at AU ’15 and was able to speak directly with Autodesk’s own, Heather Karrick. Heather works at the Applied Research Lab, which is part of the CTO’s group at Autodesk.

The Applied Research Lab collaborated with a few other groups to make this exhibit come to life. The Living, a company based out of New York, created the architecture itself. This was accomplished using both computers and humans, just like the exhibit.

The University of Stuttgart also had their hand in the project. They were responsible for creating a significant amount of the robot control code. Other groups involved were Autodesk’s own UI research team, and the research transfer teams in Toronto. Finally, the LED system was developed by the Marcelo Cohealo Studio.

The project has been an idea for about a year, but didn’t really start forming until about 6 months before the conference.

It is predicted that as robots start to become more ubiquitous, users will begin working side by side with the new form of artificial intelligence.

This prediction is why Autodesk’s Toronto research transfer teams created a new user interface that allows the most novice user to quickly grasp key concepts. Autodesk also chose bamboo because it is a material that robots are typically not working with. Just another added dimension, that makes this project unique.

We also spoke with Manuel, who works on the team that created the robot. They refer to the robot as a “co-bot” because they can work side by side with humans.

Industrial robots can’t work alongside humans because they have no ability to sense the human and respond accordingly. Actually, it is commonplace to see industrial robots, given restricted space or modified with cages so humans aren’t injured.

Conversely, the co-bots are safe to work alongside and are easy to program. It only takes about 20 minutes to program a command, and you don’t have to be a robot expert to install instructions!

The co-bots are commercially available today and surprisingly affordable. While this type of robot is not ideal for manufacturing cars, or similar large projects, they are perfect for small to medium size businesses that want automation without a huge investment. Companies are finding the investment cost effective and seeing positive returns in about six months.

One of the best co-bot features is the flexibility to use the bot for multiple functions. There is a universal mount that allows owners to apply different attachments based on the particular application in use.

Many thanks to the individuals below, for a sensational project and for bringing the Hive to life at AU 2015. We featured several of the leadership in our “Best of Innovation Interviews”, so take a look to learn more.


Autodesk & The Autodesk Applied Research Lab

  • Heather Kerrick – Design Engineer, Strategic Innovations, Office of the CTO at Autodesk
  • David Thomasson – Principal Research Engineer, Strategic Innovation, Office of the CTO at Autodesk
  • Evan Atherton – Engineer, Applied Innovation, Office of the CTO at Autodesk
  • Nicholas Cote
  • Maurice Conti – Director, Strategic Innovation
  • Lucas Prokopiak – Design Engineer and Technical Assistant to the CEO at Autodesk
  • Arthur Harsuvanakit – Designer
  • Autodesk Research, User Interface Research & Research Transfer Groups

Interaction Development

  • Tovi Grossman – Research Scientist at Autodesk Research
  • George Fitzmaurice – Director, User Interface Research at Autodesk
  • Justin Matejka – Sr. Research Scientist
  • Fraser Anderson – Sr. Research Scientist
  • Ben Lafreniere – Sr. Research Scientist at Autodesk Research
  • Steven Li – Software Developer Co-op at CTO-Autodesk Research
  • Nicholas Beirne – Software Developer Intern
  • Madeline Gannon – Research Intern
  • Thomas White – Software Development Manage
  • Andy Nogueira – Principal Developer

The Living, An Autodesk Studio

  • Design System Development
  • David Benjamin – Founder and Principal
  • Danil Nagy – Associate
  • Jim Stoddart – Designer
  • Ray Wang – Research Scientist
  • Dale Zhao – Software Engineer

Institute for Computational Design
University of Stuttgart

Material System & Robotic Fabrication Development

  • Lauren Vasey – Doctoral Candidate
  • Long Nguyen – Research Associate at Institute for Computational Design (ICD)
  • Thu Phuoc Nguyen – Building Information Specialist at GigabIdea
  • Tobias Schwinn – Research Associate at Institute for Computational Design (ICD)

Marcelo Coelho Studio

LED System Development

  • Marcelo Coelho – Principal at Marcelo Coelho