Saturday, May 15, 2021


Thai talent flowers

A robotic sculpture resulting from a collaboration between a Thai lighting company and engineering students from a leading Bangkok college is set to shine an international spotlight on the country’s technological prowess.



The artwork, called The Sunflowers, was one of 75 selected in the lighting category for display during Vivid Sydney, a festival that showcases light, music and innovation in the Australian city each year. This year’s festival will be held from May 26 to June 27.

Two engineering students from the King Mongkut Institute of Technology Lat Krabang (KMITL) worked with experts from the Onga Artful Light Co on the eye-catching sculpture that will bow to festival-goers and shine greetings with its solar cell technology.

Komson Maleesee, dean of engineering at KMITL, said the artwork was designed by Datchanee Ongarjsiri, Onga’s creative lighting designer, and produced by a research team from the faculty’s Robot Club, led by Techin Siritechavong and Somsin Thongkrirat.

It stands four metres high and uses robotic technology and other advanced electronics. Importantly, for its outdoor display in Sydney, the structure can withstand winds of up to 50 kilometres per hour.

During the project’s initial development, the team used a computer to control the overall system within the sculpture and later switched to embedded sensors, enabling automatic control.

The sculpture is being subjected to a 180-hour test run until April 17, before shipment to Sydney on April 20. It will be installed in the city’s harbourside Royal Botanic Garden from May 21-23 and will be on show at Vivid Sydney, an event organised by Destination NSW, a tourism and exhibition unit of the New South Wales state government.

The sculpture is set to vow crowds during the Sydney festival, with viewers being drawn into a world of imagination brought about by light and shadows courtesy of a 3D laser. Overall, more than 300 artworks will be presented at the festival, which is expected to draw more than 2.3 million visitors,

The Sunflowers blends arts, innovation and technology, which the design team says are key factors for the creative economy that is being pursued by the Thai government.

"We are in the midst of a transition, featuring synergies and technological transformation," Komson said.

"One who succeeds in this space, vital to the era of Thailand 4.0, must create disruptive products or technologies.

"The tourism business is one of the major engines driving our economy. If we push more innovation, add value to tourism, it will bring more revenue and create a superior service industry with benefits throughout the year. Vivid Sydney is such a good example."

A number of countries, such as Singapore and Malaysia, have hosted their own light festivals. Thailand could develop a light festival with its own identity to promote light technology and tourism, Komson said.

Techin said The Sunflowers represents friendship and happiness. "It gives adoration to all mankind and Vivid Sydney’s visitors," the student said.

"In nature, sunflowers respond directionally to sunlight. This is called heliotropism. A young flower faces east at dawn and greets the sun, then slowly turns west as the sun moves across the sky.

"At night, it gradually turns back to the east to begin the cycle again."

Somsin said the solar panels in the structure harness energy from the sun during the day and store it in batteries embedded in the flowers.

At night, the stored energy is released to light up LEDs in the petals and facilitate the "bowing" movement.

Zhang Ming, president of Onga Artful Light, said nowadays light technology plays a more important role in creating joyful art, enhancing urban development, producing charming architecture, saving energy and responding to unlimited imagination.

The Vivid committee’s selection of the artwork for the festival " brings pride to all Thais and enhances potentiality, competencies and creativity", the design team says.

After Vivid Sydney, The Sunflowers will be brought back and displayed at the Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Centre in Bangkok and during National Science Week in August.


Published : April 14, 2017

By : The Nation