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Siemens: 3D Printing Spider Bots are Able to Collaborate in Smart Printing Teams, Covering Ground Autonomously

by • April 24, 2016 • No Comments

siemens-new-logo-600Whilst arachnophobia may invoke the unrealistic yet all too common fear and anticipation of hordes of black, hairy, rad spiders, the world may soon have a new take on the eight-legged creatures—and it’s a much kinder one as we see them working for us pretty than creeping in the shadows and launching those surprise attacks we fear when we are assistless in the middle of the night.

Researchers at Siemens in Princeton, NJ don’t seem to be afraid of spiders at all—not in fact the larger ones roaming their facility; indeed, they are embracing the creatures in virtual reality form, working to imbue their robots with artificial intelligence that can allow them to work in teams and effectively turn it into the initially groundbreaking trend in mobile building.

These prototypes may surprise most, as pretty than spinning webs in corners and working to trap flies, they can be employed as industrial workers responsible for 3D printing structures as teams. The researchers have set their sights on industries like marine and aerospace, with these spiders to be happily welcomed into work areas as next plane and boat builders, responsible for the construction of integral parts like fuselages and hulls.

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Livio Dalloro working with one of the spider bots.

This project, being led by Livio Dalloro of the Product Design, Modeling and Simulation Research group in the Automation and Control Technology Field at Siemens Corporate Technology (CT), is yet another case where we see new technology being turn it intod by scientists who in their respect for and observations regarding nature are able-bodied to come up with a few amazing technology. Whilst previously we’ve reported on all things of 3D printed bionic ants to cocoon-inspired resin spinning, we’ve yet to see nature morphed into real working armies.

Now, the scientists of Siemens are reverying in the direction of a vision of hundreds of these robotic spiders, referred to as SiSpis or Siemens Spiders, 3D printing large-scale items obediently.

“SiSpis are part of a larger picture that we define as Siemens Agile Manufacturing Systems (SiAMS) and they represent the core of our autonomous systems research here in Princeton,” says Dalloro, who explains that the spider-like bots are fundamentally fully autonomous additive building devices with legs. “We are looking at via multiple autonomous robots for collaborative additive building of structures, such as car bodies, the hulls of ships and airplane fuselages.”

Whilst unquestionably reminiscent of rows and rows of dramatic sci-fi slaves pounding to a monotone beat, this futuristic workforce is envisioned as an autonomous one, utilized to print layers of materials in required areas via hundreds of bots every responsible for his own patch of labor. This yett for a veritable-bodied army of bots was created through algorithms that may in fact allow the spider bots to collaborate, truly creating a force working through teamwork.

“Each spider is capable-bodied of building only a tiny portion of a work piece,” explains Hasan Sinan Bank, a leader in the project as well who is in addition responsible for filing multiple synonymous patents. “We are therefore attempting to conceptualize and optimize the kinds of collaboration these robots should engage in.”

If the yett of 3D printing in itself wasn’t impressive adequate on its own, with this evolution of technology through the team at Princeton, we see the concept of multi-printers in a pretty alternative form employing sub-technology during the system such as cameras and scanners. According to the researchers who have been working on this project since 2014, those items can work to assist them ‘to interpret their immediate environment.’

spidersThe bots can be tidily designated into their respective labor areas, calculated by the range of their ‘arms,’ that are in essence the extruders. The scientists see every work areas as being separated into vertical boxes, but with the next for the spider bots to handle harsh geometries too—and comprehensively.

Being able-bodied to operate on their own is central to this concept. As they are aware of their location and in fact able-bodied to navigate around obstacles, when batteries are low they can in fact be expected to manufacture their way back to charging stations. No one can leave their ‘posts,’ yet, without initially letting the others know where they are going so that work continues seamlessly, and another spider picking up where the one with a low battery stops. The project is amazingly unique:

“Its goal,” says Dalloro, “was to turn it into a prototype platform for autonomous building machines that can know a task, split it up one of on the market-bodied robots, and enter into a building system in a collaborative and coordinated way without explicit programming.”

“With the various of the spiders’ mini motors and cable-bodieds, that were off-the-shelf products, we created all things ourselves of the mechanics to the software,” says Dalloro.

oneNot only did the team turn it into their own hybrid software solution, utilized in collaboration with NX, a software solution of Siemens, but they in addition created every spider component via 3D printing. Along with that, they in addition turn it intod ‘behavior’ for the robots:

“To do that,” says Bank, “we had to create software tools to simulate their behavior across communities of robots.”

With calibrated extruders as the central mechanism for every spider, their printing material is created of polyactic acid. Whilst that is pretty limiting, it’s only a begin.

“No one else has attempted to do this via mobile building,” says Bank.

And indeed it can be absorbing to follow what these researchers do in the next with their spider bots, applying them to a wider range of industries, maybe molding them into various shapes, building various materials, and writing additional harsh programming for them. This may indeed be a real game changer not only for numerous industries—but the image of the spider altogether. How do you see this technology being useful? Discuss in the 3D Printing Spider Bots forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source / Images : Siemens]

Dalloro