Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) introduced 3D printed robots that can be baked for easy assembly.
Daniela Rus, lead author of the study and professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, and her colleagues presented the "baked robots" at the 2014 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation event in Hong Kong.
The researchers demonstrated the concept of the study in which the robotic components can be baked or heated for easy assembly. The group also presented the process used in building electrical components from self-folding lase-cut materials. The 3D printed robots would be equipped with sensors and actuators that would allow them to move.
"We have this big dream of the hardware compiler, where you can specify, 'I want a robot that will play with my cat,' or 'I want a robot that will clean the floor,' and from this high-level specification, you actually generate a working device," Rus said in a press release.
"So far, we have tackled some subproblems in the space, and one of the subproblems is this end-to-end system where you have a picture, and at the other end, you have an object that realizes that picture. And the same mathematical models and principles that we use in this pipeline we also use to create these folded electronics."
Rus drew inspiration of the robot from the origami-a Japanese art of folding papers to form an object of specific design. But the patterns were not as easy as doing origami, the researchers stated that it required complicated control.
The researchers inserted a sheet of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) between two films of inflexible polyester separated with slits of different widths. The materials were then exposed to heat causing the PVC to contract and the slits to close.
"You're doing this really complicated global control that moves every edge in the system at the same time. You want to design those edges in such a way that the result of composing all these motions, which actually interfere with each other, leads to the correct geometric structure," said Shuhei Misyahita, co-author of the study, in a press release.