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MM: 1D Printed Robots, And A Floating Space Drone

In this episode, we discuss a simple wire-based robot and an autonomous floating space drone.

1D Printed Robots

Who says robots have to be complicated? Researchers from the IT University of Copenhagen have developed a way to create incredibly simple robots on demand. The machine, dubbed a “1D printer”, produces simple wire-based robots that can perform a variety of tasks. Need a bot that can shimmy down a pipe into a small crevice? Input the constraints and in less than 15 minutes, the system bends aluminum wire — embedded with motors — into the shape to do the job.

The system uses evolutionary algorithms that allows it to improve the designs bit by bit until the right design is found. The little robots are also recyclable. The wire bodies can be easily straightened out and fed back into the system to be transformed into a new robot.

Future plans for the 1D printing method includes adding sensors and cameras to the robots which researchers say could be useful in space and in disaster areas.

Do you think these simple, reusable robots are the future of robotics? It what ways could this technology be used in a manufacturing environment? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Floating Space Drone

Scientists aboard the International Space Station spend as much as 10 percent of their time taking photos and video of the environment around them. So, to lighten their load, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency designed an autonomous floating space drone dubbed Int-Ball.

This tiny adorable camera drone can record video while moving in space via remote control from the space center below in Japan. The Int-Ball relays whatever video and images it captures back to Earth, where flight controllers and researchers can look them over and send them back to the ISS crew. Not only can this help bridge the communications gap between the astronauts and ground crew, but it will also capture real-time views and the crew’s perspectives while carrying out vital, time-sensitive experiments.

Made of 3D-printed parts, the Int-Ball arrived aboard the ISS in June and is currently undergoing initial verification.

Can you imagine some operational advantages to using similar camera drones here on Earth? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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