A joint project between ETH Zurich, Carnegie Mellon University, and Disney Research has yielded an interactive design system that enables hobbyists to create custom walking robots that can be printed in three dimensions (3D).
Each robot starts out with an initial skeleton in which virtual motors connect the bones at each joint position. Walking is facilitated by adjusting which legs are on the ground when, while keeping the robot from toppling by making sure the green ball representing its center of mass remains within the red box representing the stability polygon created by whichever legs are in contact with the ground. The software optimizes the motor values to produce dynamically stable motions that can then be previewed in a physics-based model. The final stage is to generate 3D geometry for all of the robot's body parts, including motor connectors.
The software accounts for what kind of 3D printer and constituent materials the user is employing.
The software's developers constructed a variety of robots from scratch, and they say real-world testing demonstrated "good agreement between the overall motions of our physical prototypes and the behavior predicted in simulation."
The research was presented at the recent ACM SIGGRAPH Asia 2015 conference in Kobe, Japan.
From IEEE Spectrum
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