While we’ve covered numerous applications for 3D printing involving robotics, it’s the future of the two converging technologies that really gets us excited. Not only does 3D printing enable rapid iterations of newly designed robots, but the technology will also permit designers to change the functionality of robots on the fly by printing new modular components.
Now, one Worcester, Massachusetts-based company called Neuron Robotics wants to streamline the entire process of designing and fabricating sophisticated robots via 3D printing. The company has recently unveiled a new robot development application called BowlerStudio, which is able to combine scripting and device management with powerful control as well as valuable processing features.
Users are able to quickly design movable robots within the BowlerStudio software, which utilizes the OpenCV image processing library as well as a configurable kinematics engine based on D-H parameters, and a JCSG-based CAD and 3D modeling engine. Using slide bars within the Creature Creator design interface of the software, users can manipulate D-H parameters during the design process to eventually generate 3D printable STL files. Not only can these files, once printed, be used to create the exact robot which is designed on the computer, but the robot will be able to function and walk just like the simulation within the BowlerStudio software.
The tools will empower users to do all of the following, making the robot creation process much more user-friendly:
- Create your own graphical user interfaces in order to control your robot
- Create and control animations
- Ability to give your newly designed robot sight with image processing on camera feeds and Kinect data
- Easily interface with motors, sensors, and other electronics hardware
- Directly operate 3D printers and other tools via the software
- Create 3D models and simulate the motions of that model on the screen based on the placement of components and servos
The entire process, from creating the robot to printing it out and assembling it, is relatively easy. Users design their robotic creature within a simple user interface, placing parts and components however they choose. Once their robot is complete, they can use a typical video game controller to ‘drive’ their robot within the computer simulation. If they like how it looks and functions, all they have to do is generate the STL files and print the parts out on virtually any desktop 3D printer on the market. Once printed, the user will be able to assemble all the plastic parts along with electronic components and when all is said and done the same video game controller can be used to ‘drive’ the actual physical robot, using Cartesian instructions, in the same fashion as done within the simulation. Users are also able to train their robot through a set of tasks, using the video game remote to communicate with their creation, and even recording its movements within the BowlerStudio software.
While the entire platform is still under development, it appears as if Neuron Robotics has made substantial progress within the space, and could end up being a key player in the 3D printed robotics equation moving forward. Let us know if you’ve tried the software out, and what you thought. Discuss in the BowlerStudio forum thread on 3DPB.com, and be sure to check out the two videos below of the software in action.