Researchers are working to build technology that will allow anyone to design and print their own robot within 24 hours. Engineers at Harvard, MIT and the U of Pennsylvania have received a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation to “create computer manufacturing files which would act as a recipe for a number of machines to build a robot from scratch with minimal human interaction.” The intention of the grant is to develop technology that will democratize and personalize automation according to the demands of individual users.
What’s the Big Idea?
This new project follows upon 3D printing technology, which already allows designers to build inexpensive prototypes and companies to print specialty parts not well suited to traditional manufacturing. “We will enable the rapid creation of tooling for manufacturing, and fast reconfiguration of assembly lines,” says MIT professor Daniela Rus. “Custom robot hands will bring a new level of flexibility to people confined to wheelchairs, allowing them to reach for objects on shelves or floors, and inexpensive project kits in the classroom.” The technology should be ready by the end of the decade.