20120329171557-1MIT (Massachusetts institute of technology) have been granted $10 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to carry out their robotic design and production project. MIT’s goal is to develop a desktop technology that will allow user to design, customise and print their specialised robot.

Professor Vijay Kumar, who leads up the team from the University of Pennsylvania states “Our goal is to develop technology that enables anyone to manufacture their own customized robot. This is truly a game changer. It could allow for the rapid design and manufacture of customized goods, and change the way we teach science and technology in high schools.”

The five year project has been funded as part of the NSF’s “Expeditions in Computing” program and with a team of researchers from MIT, Harvard and Pennsylvania University it’s exciting to think of the impact this new technology may have for future generations. If this project is a success specialised robots can be created to aid things like education, health care and even disaster relief.

Currently the process of designing and creating robots is extremely expensive due to the hardware and software involved, not to mention the time it takes. It can take years to successfully build a working robot but with this new technology being introduced the time and costs would be dramatically reduced. Another great breakthrough is that it would also allow the average user to create custom robots from easy accessible materials like paper.  The user would first look through a catalogue of robot types and customise specific parameters like number of legs. Once the parameters are set and a software module has been created, 3D printers would then be used to produce the customised robot.

To date, the team of researchers have created two prototypes which includes an insect like robot that can be used to explore contaminated areas and a gripper that can be used by people with limited mobility. An outstanding statistic is that both the prototypes took less than $100 to make.

In conclusion, MIT want a future where we can choose the qualities our robots have and give us the ability to create it.

Source: MIT