Fancy a robot? Print your own...

A US-based project aims to make it possible for people to print robots on demand before the end of the decade. 

Researchers from three universities have secured funding to pursue the initiative that would see them build desktop technology that would allow almost anyone to design and print a specialised robot in just a few hours. 

The initiative is being funded by a $10 million (£6.3 million) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

The five-year project involves teams from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania. 

Virginia-based NSF said the move was part of an effort to "catalyse far-reaching research explorations motivated by deep scientific questions". 

Currently, it takes years and resources to produce, program and design a functioning robot. 

The printed robots would be 'pre-programmed' with certain tasks but users would be able to add more actions by programming additional commands, sent wirelessly to the robot. 

The new initiative, which would "completely automate" the printing process, is the latest stage in the development of 3D printing.


Speaking to the BBC, Professor Rob Wood from Harvard University said: "We think of printing as a broad class of techniques which are inherently accessible and relatively cheap. 

"3D printers are becoming more accessible but we want to go beyond that to create robots that encompass multiple functionalities, that have electrical and mechanical components, controllers and microprocessors. That's something that goes beyond today's state-of-the-art printers."


He said the research project could be used as a blueprint for future developments – envisaging 'one-stop-shop' machines that can print out a robot at home for less than $100. 

Sounds interesting, huh? We certainly think so...

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