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Managing Editor  | June 2017

Carnegie Mellon creates tool to help novices and experts 3-D print robots


The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pa.) has developed an interactive tool to assist novices and experts build legged or wheeled robots using 3-D printed parts, according to a report on the university website.

 

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A new interactive design tool developed by the Robotics Institute enables novices and experts
to build customized legged or wheeled robots using 3D-printed components
and off-the-shelf actuators. (Carnegie Mellon University)

 

The article explained, “Using a familiar drag-and-drop interface, individuals can choose from a library of components and place them into the design. The tool suggests components that compatible with each other, offers potential placements of actuators and can automatically generate structural components to connect those actuators.”

 

When a user has completed the design, the tool simulates a physical environment to test the robot prior to building so that users can make the necessary adjustments to the look or motion of the robot.

 

University researchers presented the new tool at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2017), which was held in Singapore.

 

Carnegie Mellon researchers demonstrated that the new design tool worked as expected by fabricating “a wheeled robot with a manipulator arm that can hold a pen for drawing, and a four-legged ‘puppy’ robot that can walk forward or sideways.”

 

The initial design for the puppy allowed it to only walk forward, so the researchers made a correction that would give it sideways movement as well.

 

The article added, “The research team developed models of how actuators, off-the-shelf brackets and 3D-printable structural components can be combined to form complex robotic systems. The iterative design process enables users to experiment by changing the number and location of actuators and to adjust the physical dimensions of the robot. The tool includes an auto-completion feature that allows it to automatically generate assemblies of components by searching through possible arrangements.”

 

As robotics become more prevalent in daily life, novices and experts will both be searching for the means to design and customize robots to fir individual needs. The researchers hope this tool will make that process considerably easier.

 

To learn more about the interactive tool, watch the video below:


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