DESIGNING THE FUTURE
Jackson Wynne is a Conceptual Designer and Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Technician at SWAE. With a background in architecture, he has put his talents to work in designing and rendering concepts for vehicles and ongoing projects with a focus on innovation and experimentation. The lead designer on Project ARGOS sat down for a conversation about the inspiration and process behind the Spot redesign.
What inspired the final look for the ARGOS reskin?
We explored a bunch of schematics in several different directions, such as science fiction, automotive, more organic sculptural, or even some making it look more like an actual dog. However, with SWAE's roots in automotive engineering, we gravitated more towards those ideas.
In talks with Boston Dynamic's Marc Theermann, he was more interested in the dog being viewed as friendly. Now, I interpret that as meaning bubbly and fun, almost like a toy. However, in talking with Marc, he used a supercar as a perfect example of a beautiful piece of machinery or high-tech tool that's not viewed as a sentient being. So, for a guiding principle, we used that to help us flesh out the final design. The Spot dog's dynamic movement makes people conclude that it is somehow alive when in actuality, it is as "alive" as a toaster or Lamborghini. So not at all.
What would you say was the most challenging part of the process, and why?
The most challenging part of modeling was designing the base panels and figuring out how to attach them. Boston Dynamics did not design the dog to be reskinned in this way or have different attachments. We had to be innovative in making the attachment brackets that would hold the panels on - easily the most challenging aspect.
The other challenging aspect of the project was assembling the Modix large format printer. It is a massive and complex piece of equipment, so its assembly was also quite tricky.
Designing The Future
What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was the most fun?
As soon as we got the parts back, and started to sand and Bondo them. Seeing them come together was really, really cool. In architecture school, I did tons of modeling and rendering, but nothing like this. We hit the design phase pretty hard with this project, so seeing everything come together in the physical world was really neat and satisfying.
What kind of future reskins or projects can we expect for Spot going forward?
Well, with the Modix printer installed and having explored some of Spot’s capabilities, I think we have better means to take on some cool new concepts. Of course, altering the Spot joints to make them safer is at the top of the list in all future designs, but I'd love to start playing with more far-out ideas. For example, we have considered incorporating different lighting elements by affixing LEDs into the skin. This project proved how much we could achieve here at the SWAE facility.
SWAE is a dream company - what would be a dream project for you to work on personally and why?
I've recently seen other companies doing fascinating stuff with replica cars. So with our capabilities extended, I'd love to see SWAE take on some conceptual vehicles and make them in the real world. It would be super neat to take something from science fiction or video games and have them be driveable or flyable in the real world.