Scientists at Eth Zurich have created an autonomous cat-like robot that’s able to mimic real feline movement using Additive manufacturing.
Created using SLS, FDM and MJF over nine months,
the ‘Dyana’ bot features Impact-resistant thigh pads, which enables free movement without endangering it.
The bot is more predatory in size than a domesticated cat,
the droid can make computer-animated movements,
and has its own programmable ‘character,’
which was designed to merge robotics and animation in a unique animatronics application.
“Dyana’s design and character hold a lot of potentials,” says Andrina Grimm, Technical lead on the project.
” We want to design characters in the real world and make a system where you can add different characters,
and have varying emotions on a robot.”
Merging AM with animatronics
A focus project between the ETH Zurich and three other Swiss universities
, involving fourteen bachelor students.
All fourteen of these engineers have a strong background in animatronics,
a field devoted to the design and development of lifelike robots, which move almost lifelike rather than robotically.
To ensure the growth of this goal,
The Dyana project’s mechanical and design lead Andrina Grimm,
says her team aimed to merge the field of characters and animation, with a robot nimble enough to move around in the real world,” and create a one-of-a-kind character able to move on its own.
She adds that one of the hurdles that animatronic engineers still need to beat is making the resulting robots capable of playing back pre-animated movements,
and ‘walking’ in the real world.
Such robots would need to be sturdy enough to not break under pressure, and in the case of the ERH Zurich project, the team was on a nine-month deadline that needed Dyana to be produced rapidly.
Constructing a Feline companion
To build Dyana as fast as possible and with enough design flexibility as possible, the student engineers start by modelling their bot, before 3 printing its polymeric shell.
This enabled the team to connect the feline’s interfaces and curved outer plating aerodynamically, and according to Grimm, this allowed them ” add feeling and character to its whole body.”
Throughout the multiple stages of the project,
FDM, MJF and SLS technologies were utilised, enabling them to quickly incarnate their cat-bot’s design,
but it was the latter that was finally used to create its exoskeleton,
due to the ultra-lightweight parts, it was found to provide.
Grimm further explains ” SLS technology was adopted for the shoulders and thighs,
P12 we were able to access parts strong enough for the robot to absorb impacts yet flexible enough to support curved surfaces.”
Lasered sintered with Sintarec systems, these robotic limbs feature dedicated spaces for mechanical interfaces, and an end-user ready finish means they don’t need sanding before application.
Once printed, the parts were spray painted, merged with silicone pads and added to Dyana,
in a process that ended in a body which outperforms those of conventional moulded thermoplast-made bots.
Though the present version of Dyana can carry out movements that appear to be natural, the team continues to work on allowing it to perform these independently.
As a result, the engineers haven’t quite achieved their animatronic aims just yet, but they still hope to create a way of uploading ‘emotions’ into bots, something they think could be possible in future.
Source: youtube, Sintratec