Your Own Personal Robot, Straight from the Printer

by Jay London on May 2, 2012 · 3 comments

in Engineering, Health, In the News, Media, Modern Geekhood, Research

Most office supply stores charge about 10 cents to make a paper copy. But how much to print a robot? That request could come in the not too distant future. MIT is part of a research team developing technology that would—at the cost of about $100—allow people to build a functioning robot.

Through a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the five-year project, “An Expedition in Computing for Compiling Printable Programmable Machines,” aims to develop a desktop technology that would make it possible to design, customize, and print a specialized robot.  The project is spearheaded by Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Professor Daniela Rus and unites researchers from MIT, Penn, and Harvard.

From MIT News:

Researchers hope to create a platform that would allow an individual to identify a household problem that needs assistance; then head to a local printing store to select a blueprint from a library of robotic designs; and then customize an easy-to-use robotic device that could solve the problem. Within 24 hours, the robot would be printed, assembled, fully programmed and ready for action.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRVnxbO69pY&w=500&h=254]
Robotic creation is typically an expensive and complicated technical process.  An inexpensive, functioning 3-D robot could have potential applications in areas ranging from cleaning behind a refrigerator to exploring a contaminated area. Two prototype machines have already been designed: an insect-like robot that could aid emergency workers and a gripping robot that could assist people with limited mobility.

From Wired:

A robot would come pre-programmed to perform a set of tasks, but if a user wanted more advanced actions, he or she could build up those actions using the bot’s basic capabilities. That advanced set of commands could be programmed in a computer and beamed wirelessly to the robot. And as voice parsing systems get better, Rus thinks you might be able to simply tell your robot to do your bidding.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

WebFABRIKA May 3, 2012 at 11:47 am

Looks very interesting … :)

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Beez May 9, 2012 at 10:16 am

When the robot printer starts printing walking robot printers…I, for one, will welcome our new robot printing overlords….

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Marco Salazar '15 May 9, 2012 at 10:16 am

The Center for Bits and Atoms has been working on a similar goal for the past few years. They’ve designed what they call a FabLab.

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