The autonomous microfactory

This pilot project focuses on skills training in digital fabrication, automation, and collaborative robotics. These collaborative robots augment human labour by automating repetitive, dangerous and monotonous tasks unlike industrial robots that simply remove and place human labour. Facilitated by the Ryerson University’s Creative Technology Lab, this initiative confronts the accelerated reality of autonomous production by introducing technology, equipment, and processes essential to operating an agile microfactory.

The architectural, engineering and construction sectors face significant unmet demands around industrial innovation and labour productivity – all compounded by COVID-19. The pandemic’s socioeconomic impact requires a solution that incorporates new technologies that disrupt traditional mass production logic and encourage innovation through contactless fabrication and autonomous construction. The industrial shift towards localized configurable spaces equipped with a broad range of autonomous and digital fabrication process capabilities has made the microfactory the preferred model for innovation, prototype, and manufacture. Microfactories increase accessibility to on-demand production, rapid iteration, and fabrication of specialized products and niche manufacturing to increase productivity, efficiency, and innovation capabilities. Its structure facilitates physical distancing and the ability to work offsite using virtual reality and human-robot interactions, leading to an unprecedented urgency for and a deficit of skilled workers to operate them.

Crane machinery with student using a VR headset in background.

Future Skills Centre is investing $129,363 in this 2-year project. It features seven workshops that survey the realm of manufacturing and production. This model increases accessibility to on-demand production, rapid iteration, and fabrication of specialized products and niche manufacturing to increase productivity, efficiency, and innovation capabilities. The structure of the microfactory facilitates physical distancing and the ability to work off site using virtual reality and human-robot interactions, leading to an unprecedented urgency for skilled workers to operate them.

Evaluation Strategy

This project will be evaluated using tools and approaches aligned with its goals, context, and stage of development. The evaluation will focus on generating the right evidence at the right moment to move the intervention forward. Read more about our evaluation strategy.

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