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.
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
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.