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Printable Robots Designed to Be Consumer-Friendly, Inexpensive

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The building blocks of self-configuring robots.

A team at the National Science Foundation's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab creates "self-reconfiguring robots" and "programmable matter."

Credit: MIT

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding a project that seeks to automate the process of designing and manufacturing robots for the average consumer.

The process makes use of two-dimensional desktop technology fabrication methods. Users would be able to design, customize, and print a specialized robotic system in a matter of hours.

"We believe that it has the potential to transform manufacturing and to democratize access to robots," says Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Daniela Rus.

NSF's Ralph Wachter says such research "aims to revolutionize the design and manufacture of robots, which could have a profound impact on society. It would remove barriers and allow the average person to create and customize his or her own robot to meet his or her specific needs. This opens the door to great possibilities in diverse fields spanning healthcare, energy and transportation."

University of Pennsylvania professor Vijay Kumar also says "it could allow for the rapid design and manufacture of customized goods, and change the way we teach science and technology in high schools."

From National Science Foundation
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