The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has created a range of robots based on the premise that everyone loves flatpack furniture, taking the world’s obsession with Ikea into account.
The university’s origami-inspired robots (dubbed Robogami) allows users to build their own robots from kits that fold together to create a range of different styled critters.
They’re make it easy for people of all ages to create their own robots, just by folding up some parts and using basic coding to make the robots do things.
“The goal is to make the process of designing robots accessible,” Adriana Schulz, a PhD student at MIT told TechCrunch. “The actuators, the materials, the code, things like that require a lot of knowledge. Our system encapsulates that expert knowledge, so the user can focus on conceptual design.”
Because the pieces are designed as a flat object and are then turned into 3D objects by users, the cost of creating the robots is reduced significantly, without compromising the functionality at all.
You build the robots onscreen by dragging and dropping different parts, including the chassis, wheels and any other feature to help its operation, such as legs. Meanwhile, in the background, the software is working out how it’ll move and work. Changing a part of the design will change how it works, for example.
“The ordering of the how the legs move, the speed, these are all parametric structures,” Schulz added. “The software maps these components into a full fabrication plan, from the mesh that goes to the 3D printer to the motors and code, the user doesn’t have to worry — it’s very end to end.”
“One of the key things is that you can design geometry and motion at the same time. Normally that’s two different processes, but here you can change one and see how it affects the other,” said Schulz.
Robogami is nothing but a research paper at the moment, but Schulz says she does hope it can be used for more complicated robotic creation i the future.
These tools enable new approaches to teaching computational thinking and creating,” Daniela Rus, director of MIT’s CSAIL added. “Students can not only learn by coding and making their own robots, but by bringing to life conceptual ideas about what their robots can actually do.”