Robots That Are Ready to Walk as Soon as They Exit the 3D Printer

Michele Debczak

Building a robot from 3D-printed parts is nothing new, but now researchers have found a way to print a full robot that's ready to walk away from the printer once it's completed.

The secret behind this robot's mobility is a combination of liquid and solid plastic parts, WIRED UK reports. Computer scientists at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab modified a commercially available 3D printer so it could function more like a traditional inkjet version. This allowed the machine's eight print-heads to release varying materials that served different purposes.

As it deposited the liquid plastic that would form the robot's 12 hydraulic pumps, it also added the actual liquid necessary to power them. The body of the robot was hardened under a UV light while the hydraulic fluids maintained their liquid form. After a 22-hour printing process, the six-legged robot was just about ready to scamper away. All the researchers needed to do was pop in a motor and attach a battery. You can see the finished product in action in the video above.

The research team's findings [PDF] will be presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation next month.

[h/t WIRED UK]

Header/banner images courtesy of MIT CSAIL via YouTube.