Robots are often complicated. Researchers at IT University of Copenhagen have taken this reality to heart and focused on simplicity. They’ve created a printer that produces extremely simple robots on demand. Plus, the little creations can do tasks beyond human capabilities.
Specificity, the team at the university’s Robotics, Evolution, and Art Lab (REAL) were the brains behind the design. They call their device a “1D printer” with the ability to pump out wire-based robots fixated on granular tasks. Similar to industrial wire-bending machines, the printer extrudes a length of wire bent in numerous places. During construction, electric motors are attached to the wire design, which brings the robot to life.
Due to an underlying algorithm, the machine can autonomously design a robot for a specific function, which then submits the specs and prints the final piece.
In addition, the printer learns over time. When a certain configuration fails to perform, it will keep creating a different model until one is successful. This may seem wasteful in both time and materials, but the wires are easily recycled by straightening and each robot takes only 15 minutes to print.
These little guys won’t be doing any complex chores, but scientists believe they will prove useful in reaching locations inaccessible to humans.
The details of the work can be found in a paper recently published in the journal IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters.
Watch the wire robots scurry around in the video below.