Engineers from University of California San Diego are using their 3D printer to create insect-like robots called ‘Flexoskeletons’.
To create their new robot, instead of the conventional method of adding soft materials to a rigid body, the researchers added critical rigid features to a soft body, similar to the make-up of an insect. Printing a single component takes around 10 minutes and costs less than R18 ($1) and a completely assembled bot should be ready in less than two hours.
An added benefit to this method of creation is the fact that it allows for the construction of soft components to be made quicker and at a fraction of the cost.
Nick Gravish, one of the researchers that worked on the flexoskeleton hopes their new creation will open the door for engineers to build large groups of insect-inspired robots with little manual assembly, combined with a library of Lego-like components allowing for the robot parts to be easily swapped. Gravish also hopes that the flexoskeleton could lead to robot swarms capable of accomplishing tasks at least as well as larger machines, but with lower costs and less risk.
Take a look at the flexoskeleton in action below.