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Research Papers

Integrated Codesign of Printable Robots

[+] Author and Article Information
Ankur Mehta

Computer Science and
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Cambridge, MA 02139
e-mail: mehtank@csail.mit.edu

Joseph DelPreto

Computer Science and
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Cambridge, MA 02139
e-mail: delpreto@csail.mit.edu

Daniela Rus

Professor
Computer Science and
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Cambridge, MA 02139
e-mail: rus@csail.mit.edu

Some work in this section was previously published in Ref. [3].

Manuscript received August 16, 2014; final manuscript received December 24, 2014; published online February 27, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Aaron M. Dollar.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 7(2), 021015 (May 01, 2015) (10 pages) Paper No: JMR-14-1221; doi: 10.1115/1.4029496 History: Received August 16, 2014; Revised December 24, 2014; Online February 27, 2015

This work presents a system by which users can easily create printable origami-inspired robots from high-level structural specifications. Starting from a library of basic mechanical, electrical, and software building blocks, users can hierarchically assemble integrated electromechanical components and programmed mechanisms. The system compiles those designs to cogenerate complete fabricable outputs: mechanical drawings suitable for direct manufacture, wiring instructions for electronic devices, and firmware and user interface (UI) software to control the final robot autonomously or from human input. This process allows everyday users to create on-demand custom printable robots for personal use, without the requisite engineering background, design tools, and cycle time typical of the process today. This paper describes the system and its use, demonstrating its abilities and versatility through the design of several disparate robots.

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References

Figures

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Fig. 1

When creating a new electromechanical component, a designer needs only to be responsible for specifying the shaded blocks: which subcomponents are required from the library, how their parameters and interfaces are constrained, and what parameters and connections to expose to higher designs

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Fig. 2

A library of modular components enables robotic design to be reduced to hierarchical composition of predesigned elements. The starred components are basic building blocks defined from scripts by experts; the rest have been assembled within the design system and added to the library.

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Fig. 3

Outputs generated from the code in Listing 1: (a) face-edge graph representation of a beam geometry, (b) generated drawing to be sent to a 2D cutter, and (c) generated 3D solid model

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Fig. 4

Outputs generated from the YAML definition in Listing 2: (a) component-connection graph representation of a finger design hierarchy, (b) generated drawing to be sent to a 2D cutter, and (c) generated 3D solid model

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Fig. 5

Each electrical module features connections for an upstream and downstream module as well as three ports for connecting devices such as servos, LEDs, or digital and analog sensors. These modules are designed to be plug-and-play and do not require reprogramming based upon location or connected devices.

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Fig. 6

Each device is automatically assigned a virtual pin number. Users can then control the robot using the virtual pin numbers so that knowledge of the actual chain configuration is not required.

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Fig. 7

An intuitive connection of integrated components simultaneously produces a collection of outputs for immediate fabrication, producing designs across all required subsystems

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Fig. 8

The Seg, a two-wheeled mobile robot, was compiled from modular electromechanical components. Electrical components are directly connected to the brain using the modular software interface.

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Fig. 9

Each node on this tree represents a component in the design of the two-wheeled robot, generated solely by composing its child nodes. The leaf nodes were design by expert designers, but every higher level of the design can be assembled from its children by a casual user.

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Fig. 10

Complete mechanical, electrical, and software subsystem designs for an autonomous line-following wheeled robot are generated from a functional description of the logical flow of information from a light sensor to the wheels

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Fig. 11

The design of the walking robot is similar to that of the Seg, with the addition of mechanical leg and flexure components. The higher-level brain and motor components, shaded in the diagram, can be reused from the earlier design.

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Fig. 12

A complex hexapod walker can be generated adapting existing library elements generated from past designs

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Fig. 13

A robotic manipulator arm was generated by serially connecting integrated actuated hinge and gripper modules

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Fig. 14

The design tree for the gripper arm shows how a complex electromechanical device can be hierarchically assembled from simpler mechanisms. The integrated brain and servo modules are adapted from the earlier robots with slight modifications to enable daisy chained electronic modules, and the servo module is shared between the hinge and gripper mechanisms.

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