If a new US-based project achieves its goals, we could see print-on-demand robots available before the end of the decade.
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Funded by a US $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation, robotics experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University, will work towards developing a technology that will enable people design and print their own robot within 24 hours.
"Our goal is to develop technology that enables anyone to manufacture their own customised robot," said Professor Vijay Kumar, one of the researchers from the University of Pennsylvania. "This is truly a game-changer."
Kumar's past work in robot technology include being part of the team that famously created a team of "quadrotor" flying robots that played the James Bond theme (see video above).
Lisa-Joy Zgorski, a spokesperson for the NSF, said that if successful, the project "has the potential to democratise and personalise automation to meet the needs of individual users whether for search and rescue workers in remote areas of the world or educators in classrooms around the US possibilities for social impact abound."
The five year project is just the start of what researchers hope to accomplish. Professor Rob Wood from Harvard University said that in the future, he hoped they could establish "one-stop-shop" machines like robot vending machines, where people could buy their own robot for less than $100.
It'll be a few years before this technology is available, but it doesn't hurt to plan ahead. Here are five chores I'd let a robot take over for me:
Cleaning the bathroom
It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it. I'd just rather it was someone else.
I love cooking, but I'm not such a huge fan of the clean-up. I'd definitely be open to passing this chore onto my robot assistant. Of course, a dishwasher would solve this problem, but where's the fun in that?
You sort, you wash, you hang, you fold doing laundry feels like a never-ending chore. It'd be nice to have a helping hand to finish the job.
Standing in line at the post office
It doesn't seem to matter what time I go, or how clever I think I'm being by "avoiding the rush", I inevitably end up wasting what feels like hours standing in line, usually for something very unexciting, like stamps.
Building more robots
Flat-pack furniture assembly can be challenging at best, and I'm sure this will translate to flat-pack robots. Once you've built your first robot, sit back and have it build the others!
What would you have your personal robot do for you? Tell us in the comments…
Wacky Japanese inventions