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Now You Can Build Your Own Functioning Robot In Minutes

As robots become increasingly common across different parts of our world, they remain incredibly difficult to make. From designing, modeling to fabricating and testing, the process is slow and too costly: even one small change takes a lot of time to rethink and revising important hardware.

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But what if there was a way to let non-experts craft different robot designs – in one sitting?

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) want to open up the technology to more people, however — with the goal of expanding access to robots beyond those fortunate enough to be studying at top universities.

With that mission in mind, they developed a new system called “Interactive Robogami,” that lets you design a robot in minutes, and then 3D-print and assemble it.

“Interactive Robogami is a software tool that allows non-expert users to design and build their own custom walking and driving robots,” CSAIL Ph.D. candidate Adriana Schulz, one of the lead authors of the project

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The system is end-to-end, meaning it takes care of generating 3D-print files, software, and the electronics wiring: giving the user a complete fabrication plan. Users can focus purely on the high-level, conceptual design.

It allows designers to determine both the robot’s movement (“gait”) and shape (“geometry”), a capability that’s often separated in design systems. From start to finish, robots can be created in just a few hours.

We might even see a system like these being used by schools, providing a new way of teaching computational thinking and creating.