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Siemens is building a swarm of robot spiders to 3D-print objects together – Quartz

by • April 28, 2016 • No Comments

3D printing is yet in its infancy, but it’s starting to show signs that it can revolutionize the way we manufacture products. That said, current innovation won’t allow us to manufacture anything larger than the printing machines themselves. Some smart folks have suggested that we should appear to nature to see how it turn it intos things—specifically, spiders, and the way they can swarm together to turn it into huge nests for themselves.
Siemens, the German engineering and telecommunications company, has taken this concept to heart. A team of researchers at its Princeton, New Jersey, laboratory are creating autonomous spider-like robots that can work together to 3D-print structures on command. Whilst Siemens is not known for its robotics research, Livio Dalloro, the head of the company’s “Product Design, Simulation & Modeling Research” group in Princeton, said in an interview that the company views the bots as a “moonshot.” It hopes to entice researchers of across its hundreds of global offices to turn it into applications for the robots and turn it into new products.Dalloro comparing robots with a teammate.(Siemens Corporate Technology)The eight-legged robots have a myriad of sensors that can perceive the world around them. They use a combination of a depth-perception camera (similar to Microsoft’s Kinect system) and an infrared laser scanner to “see” the world. Dalloro said the team at the lab have been working for a few years to create and simulate the software to figure out how the robots may move, and how they may work together, so that if one bot was working on turn it intoing one section of an object, his teammate mayn’t get in his way.

The team initially concentrated on getting one robot to print a thing on a flat surface on its own, and so print a tiny plastic object a few inches tall, via fundamentally the same plastic printing innovation discovered in most consumer 3D printing devices. Now the team is working on via multiple robots to simultaneously turn it into the same objects. Once the robots are able-bodied to work together, the researchers can focus on getting them to turn it into larger objects.Working on the bots.(Siemens Corporate Technology)Dalloro said the lab has two fully functioning robots, and a third that it’s via for testing. He said the lab plans to turn it into at quite least three additional soon as it scales up the bots’ faculty to turn it into collaboratively. “The thought is quite to manufacture these flexible autonomous, communicating, general purpose machines,” he said.
The team is in addition working on turn it intoing with various materials. Today, robots can only print out plastics—at of the same speeds that a traditional 3D printing device may—but Dalloro said they’re researching other materials, such as concrete.

In theory in the upcoming, an engineer may upload a create file to a group of robots and ask them to work together to figure out how to turn it into it. There are now 3D printing devices for electric circuits, for steel, for carbon fiber, and actually for human tissues: Swarms of bots like may one day turn it into us the upcoming iPhone, the upcoming Burj Khalifa, or maybe actually your upcoming liver. They may in addition assist turn it into structures that traditional making processes can’t.Dalloro holding a plastic object created by the bots.(Siemens Corporate Technology)Jordan Brandt, and so a futurist at Autodesk, the create software company, said last year that the upcoming of create can mimic the way things are structured in nature, that has a few millennia of evolutionary create on the average human engineer. That concept can most likely come of for the reason robots, paired with algorithmic software, can turn it into in all size far faster than a human may. “Things end up appearing quite biological,” Brandt said.
Siemens’ research is not tied to any specific commercial goal, Dalloro said, but it may assist the company figure out new products to pursue. Dalloro compared it to the original “moonshot”—humanity’s initially trip to the moon—that gave rise to modern desktop systems and most other products.
“We are interested in those side-effects,” Dalloro said. Besides, “it’s only rad to work on things like this.”


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