Researchers at Oslo University are developing self-instructing robots using three-dimensional (3D) printers.
"Once the robots have been printed, their real-world functionalities quite often prove to be different from those of the simulated versions," says Oslo professor Mats Hovin. "We are therefore studying how the robots deteriorate from simulation to laboratory stage."
When the researchers test the robots, they set up an obstacle course to enable them to teach themselves how to pass hurdles. The researchers hope in the future the robots will be able to give automatic feedback to the simulation program about how well they work, so the computer will be in a position to design an even better robot.
"The explanation is that a 3D printer will construct whatever you want it to, layer by layer," Hovin says. "This means that you won't have to bother with molds, and you can produce seemingly impossibly complicated structures as a single piece."
Hovin is testing certain technical production limits, such as how thin or thick the legs of the robot can be. He says a key benefit of this approach is the short distance from the ideas stage to the robot-testing stage.
"Nevertheless, there are many practical challenges ahead before our robots can be exploited commercially," says Oslo professor Kyrre Glette.
From University of Oslo
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