MIT researchers are currently working what they see as the next phase of robotics: bakable robots. In two recently released papers, the scientists outline how specially designed, self-folding components could be produced using 3D printers, which could then be baked in order to form working robot parts.
How to build a robot that will play with your cat
"We have this big dream of the hardware compiler, where you can specify, ‘I want a robot that will play with my cat,’ or ‘I want a robot that will clean the floor,’" said Daniela Rus, professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT in an official statement, "and from this high-level specification, you actually generate a working device." The first paper details how a computer-generated 3D shape can be built using self-folding plastics. The second delves into how the electrical components can be laid out to make the robot function when it's done baking. The final result is a software-designed robot that folds together like origami — no easy task when the angles of the folds have to be configured precisely beforehand.
The researchers will present their findings at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation this upcoming week. While their work is at the preliminary stage at this point, it builds on previous research conducted by Rus and her collaborators. Perhaps in the near future, regular consumers can print out origami robots whenever they want some company.