RoboLeaf at Haystack Labs 2022

Early prototypes for RoboLeaf in advance of Haystack Labs, May 2022
RoboLeaf. Developed at Haystack Labs, 2022.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: RoboLeaf imagines a tree that can protect itself from invasive insects like the spongy moth caterpillar and artificial intelligence that allows humans to share information with trees. The prototype is of a tree branch and includes a leaf with a unique folding pattern. The folds allow the leaf to contract and protect itself from predators. The folds of this prototype were scored on a laser cutter. A newly developed fiber thread that silently contracts when heated or sent an electric current allows the leaf to contract and expand. 

The thread is under development by Jack Forman. Paper to be published fall 2022.

A great tutorial on how to score paper with a laser cutter with Miura Ori

The fold was developed by Jenn Karson, with support from Paul Jackson’s text Folding Techniques for Designers.

The mechanism for sending current to the thread was developed by Alan Grover and is documented in this video.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS: Jennifer Karson, Jack Forman, Alan Grover, and brilliant advice from Annet Cowenberg.

PROJECT LINKS: Resources compiled in preparation for this project.

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms developed and piloted an experimental residential program that brought together artists and scientists to take over the campus and explore the integration of emerging technologies and processes. Here are some of my personal highlights from the 2022 residency.

4D Printing Group Videos!

Jack Demos the Thread. Heat makes it contract, when it cools it goes back to its original length.
Using the thread to actuate a valley fold.

Alan uses Gershenfeld MODs to actuates Jenn’s beta model for a leaf that protects itself (using Jack’s thread).