Chasing Pavement

Instructor: Ih-Cheng Lai
Site: Greenland

This project is a bionic design. Studying a specific creature and using Arduino to design a movable device.  
The study object is the peculiar Australian animal - Thorny Devil, which grows in Australia's inland desert area. Its feature is the absorbent body, which can absorb the water by the skin in such a dry environment. I mainly focused on how it can moisturize and conduct water so efficiently. I chose Greenland, which is nearby the polar area, as the site. The point is exploring the way how to build a self-sufficiency system in a limited resources place.

Thorny Devil

aka Thorny Dragon and Moloch, is a species of lizard growing in inland desert of Australia.
The thorny devil grows up to 21 cm (8.3 in) in total length,and can live for 15 to 20 years. It is covered in hard, rather sharp spines that dissuade attacks by predators by making it difficult to swallow. There is a spiny "false head" on the back of its neck to protect itselves by the enemies. The "false head" is made of soft tissue. Its skin is able to conduct water through its body to its mouth.

Arduino UNO

Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. Arduino boards are able to read inputs - light on a sensor, a finger on a button, and turn it into an output - activating a motor, turning on an LED, publishing something online.

The Arduino Uno is an open-source microcontroller board based on the Microchip ATmega328P microcontroller.


Greenland, which has the second-largest ice sheet globally, is the most affected area by global warming. I chose here as the site because it is hard to get water, just like the thorny devil in the desert. I want to apply the principle of lizard getting water here.
Residents mainly live in low-level areas. The industry relies heavily on fisheries. Under global warming, Greenland’s environment, housing, habit, and industry have been greatly affected.

The temperature in northern Europe is affected by the North Atlantic warm current, which is believed to be the Gulf Stream extension. The Ice sheet in the Greenland mountain melting. The melting ice flows into the ocean and cut off the North Atlantic warm current.
As the ice layer melting, the ancient Methane under the sea began floating up, and the temperature becomes warmer. Further, create a vicious circle.
Meanwhile, permafrost starts melting. The foundation of the house got destroyed.


The whole mechanism is divided into three layers. The upper layer is the shelter, and the bottom layer is the net for water conduction. When the sun shines on the ground, the light sensor will turn on and open the shelter. In the meantime, the mechanism will also make water conducted to the target place. The middle layer is the space for people living and includes room for the mechanical device.


To simulate in real-time, I use FIREFLY, a Grasshopper plug-in, and connect to Arduino UNO to display the transformation of the mechanism between sensitization and deformation.

Site model

Interactive models