Recently the team attended Airbus for the Bi-Annual Biohaviour Partner meeting.

Recently the team attended Airbus for the Bi-Annual Biohaviour Partner meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to update our partners on the progress of the project and introduce a fully integrated system, the Orchestrator, which demonstrated how the Blind Watchmaker project has been developed as a cloud-based system, accessible and operational across different platforms and different locations. As well as the full team, it was great to have representatives from Airbus, Deloitte, Glen Dimplex and ITI. One of the important aspects of a large project is getting feedback from people of widely ranging backgrounds and disciplines and this diversity of knowledge became apparent throughout the course of the meeting.

The meeting begun with an overview of the entire project and its vision to refresh everyone’s perspective and get our train of thought to the right station, ready for the day’s presentations. This was brought by Mark and included some of the work that had been done previous to the last meeting and an update on the recent successes and feedback at ICMR2019. Mark highlighted the increased desire to create a totally unique system and how timely our project was proving to be. Many conversations and meetings recently have shown how those in industry and the academic community are looking for a fresh, and specifically a more nature inspired, approach to how we view design. It is encouraging to think that we are already beginning to answer these questions before they were asked.

Wei, Stephen and Sakil then each stepped up to deliver their presentations; highlighting where they were six months previously, what work had been accomplished within this period, and what is planned for the next six months.

Wei focused on how we were framing a single growth within the entire Biohaviour system. He had previously introduced the seed genotypes and now went a step further with showcasing some patterns to control how these seeds may grow dynamically. Now armed with multiple patterns for comparison he created a library of seeds and evaluated them with simple goals such as weight and load. We were also introduced to the new concept of implementing cell division within the development cycle, where each seed produces a cell that can be split (divided) to simulate the increasing growth of the model. Finally, Wei demonstrated how he could analyse the simple structures created by finite element analysis, bringing with it the opportunity to make smarter decisions in the near future. He rounded off his talk with discussion on how to choose genes and deal with uncertainty and variability within the growth process.

Stephen then presented his work, which mainly focused on design goals and how we make decisions within the system. After reminding us of where he was at six months ago he talked through some example cases he had set up to demonstrate the decision making processes, Guidance and Restriction. These helped the audience understand how the approach worked by demonstrating a simple version of the loop showing how it was possible to achieve results which where unique and unpredictable, while still meeting customer requirements. An interesting discussion arose regarding how the team could use attractors and repellents to influence the growth after he demonstrated an attractor using geometric examples. Finally, he guided us through how decision-making in the demo worked before opening his own discussion on how we can understand our design goals and then integrate them into the Biohaviour flow.

Sakil introduced SmartMaaS (Smart Manufacturing as a Service), his new terminology which encapsulated his work with manufacturing integration and cloud distribution of the Orchestrator. He highlighted the challenges of what we are trying to attempt and how his solution will address these. His solution incorporates actors, which allow him to access data across the entire system at any point in time, effectively meaning our entire growth process is alive at all times. This living communication works with both simulation and manufacturing processes, as well as the customer and growth system, allowing smart decisions to be made based on real-time information. He then went on to explain how he is successfully communicating with multiple analytic services and manufacturing systems. His discussion described how we can incorporate supply chain issues within the manufacturing considerations of the system in order to account for a loss of supply or change in parts, again demonstrating how we can make even smarter decisions throughout the growth.

After these three exciting talks, showing how far the work had come and presenting snippets of the system, we concluded our presentation with Róisín and Imelda who ran the live demonstration of the Orchestrator. This showed how the same seed grew following different patterns, how the system communicated with multiple printers to receive cost and time data and then made a smart decision based on this information. Thankfully, the demonstration ran twice without any hitches, the first time sequentially and second time in parallel to help show the time saved by running growths in parallel.

The discussion around the table was enlightening as always. We came away with a great encouragement for how well the work is progressing, feedback from our partners on considerations going forward with the development of the project and a sense of just how much is still left to do. During the debrief session it was noted how some of the examples given could prove useful for future demonstrations. We are very grateful for the involvement, participation and contribution of each of our partners and look forward to our next meeting.

Stephen Kyle