New York: A new design tool developed by Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University will help even a novice design and build a customised walking robot using a 3D printer.
The user can specify the shape, size and number of legs for the robotic creature, using intuitive editing tools to interactively explore design alternatives.
The system also ensures that the resulting design is capable of moving as desired and not falling down.
It even enables the user to alter the creature's gait as desired.
Progress in rapid manufacturing technology is making it easier and easier to build customised robots.
“Our new design system should be of great interest to technology enthusiasts and the maker community at large,” said Markus Gross, vice president at Disney Research.
The design interface features two viewports - one that enables editing of the robot's structure and motion and a second that displays how those changes would likely alter the robot's behaviour.
The user can load an initial, skeletal description of the robot and the system creates an initial geometry and places a motor at each joint position.
The user can then edit the robot's structure, adding or removing motors, or adjusting their position and orientation.
Once the design process is complete, the system automatically generates 3D geometry for all body parts, including connectors for the motors, which can then be sent to a 3D printer for fabrication.
The researchers designed and built two four-legged robots using the design system and found that the overall motions of the prototypes were consistent with the behaviours predicted by their simulation.
"Our ambition is to make the design of compelling robotic creatures as accessible and intuitive as possible," said Bernhard Thomaszewski, research scientist at Disney Research.
“Our tool allows the user to design the structure and motion of a robot while receiving immediate feedback on its expected real-world behaviour,” he noted.
“We aim to reinvent the way in which personal robotic devices are designed, fabricated and customised according to the individual needs and preferences of their users," said Stelian Coros, a former Disney research scientist.
The research team presented the system at “ACM SIGGRAPH Asia 2015”, the conference on computer graphics and interactive techniques.