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posted 19 November 2015 at 13:06:17

Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University have jointly developed a system that could let you 3D print your very own scuttling robot!

The new design tool allows budding roboticists to choose the size, shape and number of legs for their robot using interactive editing tools, which the developers say are 'intuitive". 

"Progress in rapid manufacturing technology is making it easier and easier to build customised robots, but designing a functioning robot remains a difficult challenge that requires an experienced engineer," said Markus Gross, vice president at Disney Research. "Our new design system can bridge this gap and should be of great interest to technology enthusiasts and the maker community at large."

The software allows users to edit the structure of the robot, as well as being able to view the way any design changes they make, such as to footfall and gait, might affect the way the robot behaves. This is intended to make sure that the modified robot will be able to move without, say, keeling over, so that less experienced users don't end up with something that lies on its side all day.

The tool uses a dynamics model to generate these stable walking motions. And, compared to traditional methods of generating motion, the developers claim the process takes only a few seconds. 

"The fact is that it is both expensive and time-consuming to build a prototype – which underscores the importance of a design system such as ours, which produces a final design without the need for building multiple physical iterations," says Disney research scientist, Bernhard Thomaszewski.  "Our ambition is to make the design of compelling robotic creatures as accessible and intuitive as possible."   

You can find out more about the robot's design and watch it in action here:

 Image: © Disney Research/CMU