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Eth Researchers Print Wild Robotic Beings

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This five-legged creature and its movements were designed on a computer using a new software tool.

A new software tool allows users to quickly design a robot like this one on a computer.

Credit: Peter Regg/ETH Zrich

Researchers from ETH Zurich, Disney Research Zurich, and Carnegie Mellon University are developing a software tool that enables users to quickly custom-design a robot on a computer.

Users create a basic skeleton for their robot and design its movement, using simple motion goals such as "walk forward" or "turn left." The software provides immediate feedback on the resulting motion, as predicted by simulation. Once the user is satisfied with the design, the tool generates three-dimensional (3D) building plans for the robot, including the connecting parts that house the electric motors.

The program includes standard sizes of various commercially available motors, and users select the one that matches in order to obtain the connecting parts. Consumers would use a 3D printer to fabricate the robot and then assemble it by hand.

The researchers used the software to create a simple five-legged robotic insect that could move forward and sideways, but the robot could not identify objects and could not be controlled remotely, functions that were outside the scope of the project.

From ETH Zurich
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