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Hot VIVE Cutting

Hot VIVE Cutting

Extending the Robotic Workspace by Motion Tracking Large Workpieces

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Problem Definition

Stationary robots have a defined workspace, which limits the size of workpieces. Industrial robots usually expand these limits by adding an additional axis, thus relying on expensive, low-tolerance hardware and custom integration to the system. Contemporary collaborative robots have allowed novel ways of human-robot collaboration by providing a safe robotic work environment. While way more agile than industrial robots, these collaborative robots still have the same size-to-workspace ratio and thus the same limitations in handling larger workpieces.



We suggest a solution where a low-cost motion tracking system from an HTC Vive, is attached to the workpiece, which then updates the robotic toolpath in real time. This allows an operator to manually move large pieces of material through the stationary robotic workspace. The robot then performs local manipulations in the area of the workpiece, which is at that point in time in reach of the robot’s end-effector. Such a scenario would widen the application of robots in the realm of fabricating architectural components as well as bringing traditional craftsmanship and robots closer together.


Proof of Concept

To test this concept, we defined a task of fabricating a series of 2 meters tall architectural columns employing robotic hot-wire cutting large Styrofoam workpieces using a UR5 robot. Each column was cut out of a single block of 2000 mm x 400 mm x 400 mm material. The workpiece was equipped with two Vive trackers. The material was manually pushed along a linear guide. The technical set-up for this proof-of-concept is built around Rhino, Grasshopper, and the Robots plug-in for generating UR-Script code and sending it to the controller via a socket connection. The Vive position was acquired via the Steam VR API and streamed into Grasshopper.



Project Leader:

  • Victor Sardenberg

Project Partners:

  • Prof. Mirco Becker
  • Marco Schacht
  • Mohamed Hassan  


  • Extending the Robotic Workspace by Motion Tracking Large Workpieces, HCI International 2020 - Posters
  • Extending the Robotic Workspace by Motion Tracking Large Workpieces, ACADIA 2020 - Videos