Researchers from the IT University of Copenhagen, MIT, Columbia, and Cornell have developed a “1D printer” that can produce simple wire-based robots to perform a variety of tasks.
As seen in the video below, the printer bends strands of aluminum into whatever shape is needed, and unlike “traditional” wire bending machines, can also accommodate a set of two motors for the newly-made device.
Though simple in form, depending on how the wire is bent, the machine’s function can be changed to accomplish the intended goal. And once the robot’s job is complete, its aluminum structure can be straightened and fed right back into the system.
The team’s system uses “evolutionary algorithms,” which improve their designs little by little until it satisfies whatever specific requirements and constraints. In other words, the 1D printer doesn’t have to come up with the best design on its initial attempt, but can keep evolving the design until it works.
Future plans for the 1D printing method include adding sensors and cameras, and it’s envisioned that a gadget like this could be utilized in space or disaster zones, especially in small cracks, crevices, and around odd-shaped corners. More details on the project can be found here and in its paper.[h/t: New Scientist]
1D Printer Turns Aluminum Wire Into Functional Robots was originally published in Hackster’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.