Space Robot

Science-Fiction Themed Immersive Adventure

Space Robot is a science fiction-themed immersive adventure designed for a design/build entertainment firm. We presented the warp core room attraction, where visitors control the robotic arm to replace fuel rods that power the spaceship. Our desire to make an exciting experience for both game players and operators lead to an immersive room design that can be easily implemented and operated. Our design integrates lighting concept with visual feedback of correct player moves and can be operated without staff oversight, as required by the client.

My role I was responsible for the overall system design as well as fuel rod assembly, fabrication, and electronics. The key challenges were achieving larger-than-life experience within the client's room size constraints as well as achieving a refined futuristic look for the fuel rod that can house all required electronics components. I also worked on website design, digital representation [all diagrams in this page are my work] and graphic design.

2.744 Product Design | 2014
Instructor: David Wallace
Science fiction adventure for 5Wits

Collaborators Carmen Graves, Rebecca Smith, Faye Wu


Our spaceship is attacked by aliens and the warp core is damaged. The space commuters must switch out the radioactive fuel rods with the robotic arm to initiate jump.

Final Prototypes

The electromagnetic [robotic] arm picks up and replaces the fuel rod.

We provided room dimensions and robotic arm specs to the client. Our room design uses the full 13' height for larger-than-life effect.

Experience Design for Game Players: Larger than Life Experience

We intended to design an immersive experience for 5Wits visitors where children and adults can be exposed to cutting-edge technology. Our fictional scenario of fixing the warp core room provides an unforgettable and larger-than-life experience that can help to teach children the essence of coding.

Experience Design for Game Operators: Easy Installation and Maintenance

Our modular box containing the receptacle and electronics and just needing to be plugged into wall power once installed. If the battery inside the rod needs to be changed, it can be easily accessed by unfastening the top of the rod.

Electronics can be accessed in a single step

Design Language

The fuel rod is the key aesthetic element. The helix and fading effect indicate powering by matter [white] and antimatter [blue]. The fading rhythm matches our breathing, giving an organic character to our rod. The same spiral language continues on the sides and the top of the rod to unify the look.

The end effector facade design is similar to that of the fuel rod to indicate their interaction. When the fuel rod is inserted in the receptacle, the rod sits flush with the wall to reinforce the idea that they work together to fuel the entire warp core room.

Another repeated pattern is the hexagon: the rod body and facade design is six-sided, and our room is six-sided as well.

Design Constraints

System and aesthetic requirements to ensure safe sci-fi experience

Fuel Rod Design

Because this is a one of a kind, low volume production, we took advantage of off-the-shelf products, laser-cutting, and 3D printing.

Putting them all together

Receptacle Design

The receptacle encloses electronics for turning on the light when the fuel rod is inserted correctly. It is also charges the fuel rod batteries overnight.

Prototype Integration + Dimensions

Early Prototypes

Experience Design:
The client requirement was to create an experience that cannot be enjoyed at home, so we decided to have the action happen above players' heads. Our earlier concept involved fixing spaceship breach.

With a full-scale sketch model, we were able to test the experience of being under 8.5-foot tall fuel rod receptacles early in the design process. This simulates the view of the wall for a 5.5-foot-tall player standing in front of the game console in the middle of the room.

The goal of the first looks-like model was two-fold: test the diameter and the light effects of the rod for full sci-fi experience. The diameter of the rod is constrained by the size requirements from the electromagnet interaction. The blue light indicates working receptacle and green indicates placement of working fuel rod.

Earlier and alternative custom design with thermoforming and additional 3D printed parts makes maintenance even easier for game operators.

Console Concept:
Another client requirement was adaptability to different group sizes. This hexagonal console can accommodate up to 12 people, where they coordinate with each other to move the robotic arm in the correct sequence.