Generative Design, Fusion 360, and Humanoid Robots
Michael Alba posted on September 24, 2018 |
Stephen Hooper, General Manager of Fusion 360, addresses the crowd at Autodesk Accelerate 2018. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)
Stephen Hooper, General Manager of Fusion 360, addresses the crowd at Autodesk Accelerate 2018. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)

Last week, Autodesk hosted the Accelerate 2018 conference at their new office in downtown Toronto. Autodesk Accelerate has traditionally been heavily focused on PLM, but this year a new topic took center stage: generative design.

Autodesk Generative Design is a fairly new addition to the company’s engineering software portfolio, and is currently available to subscribers of Fusion 360 at the Ultimate level. The technology allows users to specify constraints and load cases for a mechanical design, to which it generates dozens or even hundreds of possible designs. It’s an early state of the technology, but it has already yielded impressive results.

Of course, the biggest update to Generative Design came with the recent news that Autodesk is consolidating the Standard and Ultimate tiers of Fusion 360 into a single version. This opens up Generative Design to a much wider audience, and could see the technology used more readily in the near future. Also in the near future is the promise of tighter integration between Fusion 360 and Generative Design. Stephen Hooper, Autodesk’s General Manager of Fusion 360, revealed that generative design will soon be as closely connected to Fusion 360 as any workspace.

One caveat with this consolidation is that Fusion 360 subscribers will no longer receive annual cloud credits (Ultimate subscribers got 1000 credits/year with their subscription). Instead, all users will receive 100 credits once upon subscribing. This is something of a token gesture, because it costs a minimum of 125 credits to get any model back from generative design (25 credits to run the study, another 100 to download the final model).

Of course, Autodesk and many of its customers claim that the value of generative design far outweighs the cost of cloud credits. One such customer is Roboy, a group based in Munich that’s building a humanoid robot meant to be “as good as a human body.” Roboy partnered with Autodesk to use Generative Design for Roboy’s pelvis component.

Left: Roboy 2.0. Right: Designing Roboy’s pelvis in Autodesk Generative Design. (Images courtesy of Roboy and Autodesk respectively.)
Left: Roboy 2.0. Right: Designing Roboy’s pelvis in Autodesk Generative Design. (Images courtesy of Roboy and Autodesk respectively.)

Several other interesting Autodesk customers gave presentations at Accelerate 2018, including: RAMLAB, an additive manufacturing company that produces large metal parts for ships and industrial machinery; Synaptive Medical, a biomedical equipment provider that designs robots for brain surgeons; and Warren Services, a UK-based manufacturer that’s digitizing the shop floor as far they possibly can.


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