Wire-bots, Roll Out!

Designing and 3D-printing parts for a robot with a specific purpose is generally more efficient than producing one with a general functionality — and even then it can still take some time. What if you cut out two of those cumbersome dimensions and still produce a limited-yet-functional robot?

[Sebastian Risi] and his research team at the IT University of Copenhagen’s Robotics, Evolution, and Art Lab, have invented a means to produce wire-based robots. The process is not far removed from how industrial wire-bending machines churn out product, and the specialized nozzle is also able to affix the motors to the robot as it’s being produced so it’s immediately ready for testing.

A computer algorithm — once fed test requirements — continuously refines the robot’s design and is able to produce the next version in a quarter of an hour. There is also far less waste, as the wire can simply be straightened out and recycled for the next attempt. In the three presented tests, a pair of motors shimmy the robot on it’s way — be it along a pipe, wobbling around, or rolling about. Look at that wire go!

This is probably one of the more unconventional projects we’ve featured, but definitely not the only one.

[Thanks for another fantastic tip, Itay!]

11 thoughts on “Wire-bots, Roll Out!

  1. ro·bot
    ˈrōˌbät,ˈrōbət/Submit
    noun
    a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer.

    Can we please stop calling crap things like this a ‘robot’. It’s nonsense to call this a robot.

    1. The article calls it a limited-yet-functinoal robot. I agree that the ability to shimmy along a pipe (especially in the manner by which this one does it) counts as a complex task. A very simple one, but still a complex task for a machine without wheels to perform

    2. First author here. I made sure the language in the paper referred to any products as an automaton, for this exact reason. Can’t control what language the university’s press office decides to use, unfortunately. However, maybe the entire system, bender, automaton, and recycler is a robot, since it’s possible that the bender could change the automaton’s design to react to a specific stimulus?

    1. Right? I’m one of the GIF haters, actually, and I thought we should leave it in.

      An animation is basically unavoidable for this piece b/c you need to see the thing in motion, and this one’s kinda small, so even the bandwidth folks won’t get hit that badly.

      Overused, animated GIFs look tacky, IMO. But when you need motion, you need motion.

  2. Is it just me, or does this scream “protein folding”? Would love to see this used to model the many proteins that are mechanisms (in the mechanical sense) to do their molecular work. (A physical model of a prion “infection” would be super-keen!)

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