On April 6, 2020, Professor Seo Taewon, in the Mechanical Engineering Department of Hanyang University (HYU), won the 2020 Red Dot Design Awards with ‘Edelstro’. Edelstro is a facade cleaning robot, which cleans the exterior walls of skyscrapers. The Red Dot Design Award is a renowned international design prize for design concepts. Developed by the Robot Design Engineering (RDE) Laboratory of HYU, Edelstro was selected as the Most Innovative Product of the Year.
Q. Could you briefly introduce the field you are currently focusing on?
A. The robots currently being applied include: facade cleaning robots, mobile robots that easily overcome stairs or obstacles, modular robots that can be transformed like Lego and two-armed robots that can operate underwater. The study of robots is convergent. As an area that requires industrialization, we are cooperating with various research institutions and companies.
Q. ‘Edelstro’ was developed together with many universities and companies. In the process, how did you cooperate with the participants?
A. The idea started from 2018, at a laboratory in Seoul National University (SNU) where I had my postgraduate course. As part of the research team, CSCAM and Clineat are responsible for commercialization, while SNU and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) are on design, Gyeong-gi University conducting the control part. Cleaning the exterior walls of skyscrapers is a very tough and dangerous job. If these high-risk, extreme condition jobs are replaced by robots it will be possible for us to conduct a more creative and accessible work.
Q . What are some methods to commercialize ‘Edelstro’?
A. The most challenging task in commercializing is the usage of environment and the diverse regulations. Aside from the diversity of buildings, the temperature, humidity, condition, and regulations are different in each country, so this is the biggest difficulty. We are trying to solve this problem specifically by recruiting partners from each country.
Q. Could you explain the designing process of Edelstro?
A. Compared to other robots, Edelstro easily combines with gondolas to clean large areas. Though it is a simple device, combining it with control algorithm and artificial intelligence makes its performance efficient. We proceeded with the design through collaboration with the designer Lee Sanghak. Edelstro was designed bisymmetrically, considering the exterior design, easy installation and internal layout. As it is used on buildings, we made it stand out using the color yellow. In the center there is a control panel which is also designed considering the users experience.
Q . What is your personal research philosophy, belief, or goal?
A.The three emphasized principles of the laboratory are: professionality, responsibility, and sense of community. With the sense of community, researchers are enjoying the collaboration projects. There are currently 17 members who are working hard in the laboratory. I hope to have a delightful and a worthwhile experience.
Q. How long have you been at HYU, and what do you hope to achieve with the HYU students? A.The RDE Laboratory of HYU is a new laboratory established in 2018. Our lab aims to study the application of robots and “design”, which is the core of mechanical engineering. I hope to build meaningful experiences with students who are interested in robots and design.