The engineers at Disney Research want to make building a walking robot as simple as constructing a model airplane or car. To help hobbyists and robot enthusiasts build amazingly complex robotic creations, they’ve developed an easy-to-use interactive design system that will allow anyone to design and 3D-print their own custom robot. 

According to Futurity, the system lets you choose the shape, size, and quantity of the robot's legs. It even lets you add and subtract motorized joints to change the way the robot walks.

As you customize your robot, the program automatically calculates how feasible your design is. Which means that once you actually print the parts, you can be sure the assembled robot prototype will actually work. That’s crucial, since according to Disney researchers, printing and assembling the robot parts is a lengthy process that can take days to complete. 

The goal for Disney is to bridge the gap between robot design—which is usually the exclusive province of trained engineers—and the comparatively simple process of construction. “Progress in rapid manufacturing technology is making it easier and easier to build customized robots, but designing a functioning robot remains a difficult challenge that requires an experienced engineer,” Disney Research vice president Markus Gross told Futurity. “Our new design system can bridge this gap and should be of great interest to technology enthusiasts and the maker community at large.”

[h/t: Futurity]