Tag Archives: 3D-Printed Robot

This 3D-printed robot can navigate inside confined spaces

OctaWorm is a 3D-printed, Arduino-based robot that may be the future of search-and-rescue missions. 

When disaster strikes, one of the biggest problems challenges that rescue teams encounter is locating and reaching survivors amid the rubble. Unfortunately, there are times even with today’s advanced technologies where humans are unable to slip into a tight space and extract an individual. But what if there was a robotic device that could? That is the idea behind a recent project by Juan Cristóbal Zagal.


Developed in collaboration with researchers from the University of Chile and University of Akron, OctaWorm is a 3D-printed octahedral robot that is capable of morphing its body to squeeze through holes, gaps and debris. The latest version, now the third prototype, is comprised mostly of 3D-printed parts and some aluminum rods for enhanced durability. It employs pneumatic-driven servo motors for movement and is operated via a wired controller, though the team hopes to make this wireless in the near future.

Aside from that, the robot is equipped with an Arduino board, an Arduino-compatible shield to controls the relays and three pneumatic solenoid valves. Since the OctaWorm is pneumatically driven, Zagal used high-quality rapid pneumatic connectors and plastic tubing to attach it to the controller.

The robot also features 3D-printed ball joints, which enable it to grip onto and traverse through any type of terrain. These rubbery balls are tasked with handling the deformation motion, and allow it to assume a variety of shapes and configurations as it slips into a crack or crevice.


“The current version of the robot is capable of traveling inside a pipe. It is also capable of dealing with changes on the internal diameter of the pipe. The functional symmetry of the robot allows it to travel along T, L and Y joints in pipelines. Traditional in-pipe robots have many problems for dealing with these types of junctions. In contrast the deformable octahedral robotcan simply squeeze into junctions,” Zagal tells 3DPrint.com. 

The goal of the project was to develop a new way to use robotic motion to access and navigate confined spaces typically found in disaster situations, as well as pipes and air ducts. In the future, Zagal envisions an even tinier version that could be used for medical applications, such as going through blood vessels.

Until then, you can watch the OctaWorm in action below!

[h/t 3DPrint.com]

Mira is the cutest robot you’ll ever see (and hide from)

This adorable bot uses facial recognition software to play peek-a-boo with humans. 

While you’ve probably seen countless robots before, we guarantee you that none have made you say “awwwww” quite like this one. That’s because Alonso Martinez, a character technical director at Pixar, has built a social bot that he calls MiraWhereas other humanoids have been designed to automate tedious tasks and lend a helping hand with chores around the house, this egg-shaped unit has one job: to make life better one smile at a time.


Proving just that, Martinez recently posted a video of Mira playing peek-a-boo with humans. In terms of appearance, the robot is pretty basic — but in the best way possible. The somewhat spherical device is equipped with a pair of eyes, a color-changing base, and if you look close enough at an earlier video, it appears to be driven by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328).

Being a Pixar character director and all, it’s no wonder Mira was inspired by the simplicity of animated robots like Iron Giant and Big Hero 6’s Baymax. Martinez tells PSFK that he began designing the friendly toy with a pencil and paper before migrating to modeling software, and ultimately, 3D printing her parts on an Ultimaker.

The project was originally designed, in collaboration with fellow Makers Aaron Nathan and Vijay Sundaram, as a way to explore human-robot interactivity and emotional intelligence. Over time, she will be able to understand more about the world and feelings, improving her ability to engage with people in a much more meaningful manner.


For now, Mira uses facial tracking technology to play the game of peek-a-boo. She will get sad when a user hides, which in turn, causes her color will change to purple. Yet as soon they reappear, Mira will wiggle in excitement, let out a joyful sound and emit various colors. If you think about it, pretty much like a pet.

While Martinez has yet to reveal if he will bring this cute companion to consumers, it is evident by its rising popularity — already 200,000 views on YouTube — that there are plenty of people out there who’d love a Mira for themselves. (Us included.) Not to mention, she’d be a nice little stress-releiver to have on your desk at work or home. After all, who doesn’t love a game of peek-a-boo?!

As we await to find out more, you can stay connected here. In the meantime, watch Mira in action below.

Creating an Arduino-based, 3D-printed robot

Maker designs a DIY four-wheel robot for less than $50.

Maker Miguel Angel Lopez had been on the lookout for a mini, inexpensive robotic vehicle that he could tinker with; unfortunately, his searches came up short. So in true DIY fashion, he decided to build his own with the help of 3D printing and Arduino.


Dubbed WatsonBot, the four-wheeler is comprised of several 3D-printed components including its undercarriage, front and rear bumpers, and central pillars between the wheels on each side. In order to power up his design, the Maker added an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), an Arduino Motor Drive Shield and a recycled RC car battery — all of which he had lying around his home.

Beyond that, Lopez obtained an infrared sensor proximity that enables Watson to “see” in front of him. For the next version, the Maker notes that at least two more sensors will be implemented to let the bot know what’s going on along its sides as well.


With a couple of nuts and screws, and finally a little programming of the Arduino, WatsonBot was good to go. Those wishing to create a DIY robot of their own can head over to his Thingiverse page here.

Nellie is a 3D-printed weed-picking robot

This Arduino-powered bot may one day help farmers stay weed-free. 

Other than shoveling several inches of snow, there’s one outdoor chore that anyone would surely welcome robotic assistance: weeding. While there are already a number of plowing bots out in existence today, thanks to one Maker, the daunting lawn care task may soon be taken care of as well.


A recent entry in MAKE: Magazine and Cornell University’s Pitch Your Prototype competition, Maker Mike Rigsby has developed a 3D-printed robot capable of, you guessed it, pulling out weeds! While at first this may sound like yet another mechanism to increase laziness, weeds are actually a serious problem for farmers all around the world — and it’s only getting worse. Take for instance Pigweed, which grows up to three inches per day and has become resistant to the dominant weed killers, threatening the nation’s soybean and corn crops.

“This is a serious attempt to address an agricultural problem,” Rigsby told the magazine. “I suspected that robots could handle the weeds and that the time to start working on such a solution is now, before the weeds develop further resistance to chemicals.”

And so Nellie was born. The robot spots and plucks them the old-fashioned way, one at a time. The current proof-of-concept is powered by a trio of Arduino Unos (ATmega328), a pair of Arduino motor shields, a Pixy camera, a Ping ultrasonic sensor, eleven AA NiMh batteries, a servo motor, a four-wheel drive base, along with some custom 3D-printed parts that were constructed using two AVR powered MakerBot Replicator 2.


How it works is relatively simple. The Pixy camera spots a weed, then feeds the data over to the Arduino processors which relay the commands to the motor controller module to activate the grabber and close the pincer. Meanwhile, the Arduino-controlled motor shield enables the robot to move about the land in the right direction. At the moment, the device is only designed to roll over carpet.

Should the Maker win the contest’s grand prize, however, Rigsby hopes to use the winnings to devise another working prototype with a little more oomph, which can navigate a farm’s terrain. And who knows, perhaps in the coming months, everyday gardeners will be able to take advantage of Nellie, too.


“To advance the project requires money for parts. Nellie’s daughters and sons will need a heavy duty chassis that will run between rows of plants, reaching to the side to eliminate offensive weeds. They need multiple cameras and better vision to pinpoint the target. Weeds will be eliminated by pulling, burning, cutting, digging, electrocuting or some combination of methods,” Rigsby adds.

Until then, you can watch it in action below. Now this would make for a great Hackay Prize entry as well. Just sayin’.

This robotic experiment recreates evolution

Sure, we’ve seen 3D printing used to manufacture products, extrude chocolate and even create an electric vehicle, but now one 3D-printed robot is helping explore the origins of mankind.


Writing for Wired UKJames Temperton has revealed that a group of University of Glasgow chemists have successfully created the first “synthetic cells” that can evolve outside of biology, simply using a 3D-printed bot and a PlayStation camera — without any human input. The research could one day help us understand how life first appeared billions of years ago.

“Right now, evolution only applies to complex cells with many terabytes of information but the open question is where did the information come from? We have shown that it is possible to evolve very simple chemistries with little information,” Professor Lee Cronin tells Wired UK.


“Creating life from scratch is hard — and we know little about the origin of life before biology — but the use of simple robots is speeding up our understanding. The robot places four droplets of the same chemical composition into a Petri dish and uses the camera to see what happens. This process is repeated over and over again with randomly different compositions of droplets.”

The team employed a robotically-controlled [Atmel based] RepRap 3D printer responsible for carrying out the experiments with synthetic cells, while a PlayStation camera snaps photos for further analysis. The robot extrudes droplets of a chemical composition into a Petri dish and tracks its development.

Each of the droplets behave differently — some divide, some move and some vibrate. They team used its robot to deposit populations of droplets of the same composition, then ranked these populations in order of how closely they fit the criteria of behavior identified by the researchers. Using a special computer algorithm, in true survival of the fittest fashion, the robot selects the “fittest” molecules and carries these into the next experiment.

The droplets consist of four different chemicals: 1-penatol, 1-octanol, diethyl phthalate and either dodecane or octanoic acid, suspended in an alkaline solution. This is extruded over and over and over again, each time with different results. Over the millions of experiments the robot performs, it has already become apparent that the various printed droplets behave differently, and clump together to form different compositions.


“By hacking together this kit we have in effect built a highly sophisticated machine that can fully automate the life cycle of a chemical protocell model. We’ve then used the robot to explore lots of different types of ingredients to try and come up with interesting recipes that show ‘life-like’ behaviors,” Cronin explains.

The initial experiments have proven to be a success in recreating the evolution process during its primordial stage, as the chemically created synthetic cells are seen evolving under the guidance of robotic selection.

“Although we used a robot, this can be viewed as a proxy for a random droplet generator and we can show that statistically, the chances of droplet evolution happening at the origin of life is higher than a complete biological cell just springing into existence,” the professor concludes.

Interested in learning more? You can read the entire Wired UK writeup, or watch the experiment in action below!

This 3D-printed, pencil-legged robot can draw

As we’ve seen many times before, the emergence 3D printing has paved for the way for uber-creative, super-easy robotics. The increased accessibility to 3D printers — including the Atmel powered RepRap or MakerBot Replicator 2 — are streamlining both prototyping and production as recently demonstrated by a Maker named Randy.


Randy, who not only runs the Instructables Design Studio but is the creator of the Goodmorning Underwear, has created a 3D-printed pencil robot capable of walking on four legs, all within 48 hours.

“This idea to have a walker bot that shifted its front center of balance is one that I have had for a few years. However, implementing it with off the shelf parts always proved rather tricky and prevented me from really trying. Yet, when I realized that this could be done quickly and easily with 3D printing, I was able to finally create this robot in about two days,” Randy writes.


In order to bring this much-thought-about idea to life, Randy elected to use an Arduino Micro (ATmega32u4), two servos, a few pencils, a 9V battery, and of course, his Afinia H480 3D printer. The Maker also notes that those wishing to think outside the box can even sharpen the pencils to transform this little fellow into a drawing bot.

As Randy’s step-by-step breakdown reveals, this project is relatively easy to replicate — which is great ‘cause this walker bot makes for one heck of a show-and-tell toy!