Urban Art Projects

Q&A with Matt Tobin, Founder and Managing Director

Urban Art Projects (UAP) is a design and manufacturing company that specialises in delivering public art and large creative projects. With design studios in Brisbane, Shanghai and New York, UAP collaborates with artists, architects and developers to provide unique art to the public realm.

For its R&D project with the IMCRC, UAP is exploring the use of robotic vision systems and smart software user-interfaces to streamline the process between design and custom manufacturing.

Q. Tell us about the Design Robotics Project

A. The Design Robotics Project is about turning a ‘dumb’ robot into a smart robot – one that can make decisions about tasks it needs to complete on a design process. The project involves us working with the teams at QUT and RMIT to teach a robot how the see, enabling it to look at an object before fettling or polishing it.

Q. Who are you working with on the project?

A. Through the IMCRC, we are collaborating with QUT, RMIT University and also with Laing O’Rourke as an industry partner.

Q. What have been the advantages of working with the IMCRC?

A. The project has opened our eyes to all sorts of technologies we didn’t know we would benefit from as a manufacturing business. For example, we have implemented a virtual reality panoramic process and an augmented reality assembly process for welders. Key staff within our business have also become champions of the new technology as they’ve seen the potential benefits for their roles.

Working on an IMCRC project has also required a very disciplined approach, from both the universities and ourselves, and that’s driven the project forward at appropriate speeds.

Q. How have you found collaborating with universities?

A. The amazing thing about working with people from universities is that in their DNA, they’re explorers. They’re testing and pushing boundaries, going down avenues and asking questions we wouldn’t normally consider as a business.

Q. What kind of impact do you think your project, or the technology you are using, will have on the art industry?

A. The technology we are developing through the IMCRC project opens a lot of doors for artists. We believe it will allow artists to include a lot more complexity in their projects, in a much more cost-effective way.

Q. What results have you seen since the project commenced?

A. Already, one year into the IMCRC project, we have seen enormous change. The technologies we are overlaying in our business have allowed us to deliver outcomes we could only dream of a decade ago.

The project has changed the way we think about our processes, the way we think about our business, and the way we think about the future.