MIT develops robot capable of printing functional drones and robots




MIT researchers have developed a machine capable of designing and building (almost) fully automated drones, robots and other functional electronic objects.

Called LaserFactory, the machine cuts and shapes the device; it also manages components and printed circuits.



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A modified laser cutting machine

Researchers from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), a laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, presented their latest machine, the LaserFactory, last week.

This basically consists of a modified laser cutting machine. From a material point of view, the researchers added a nozzle to allow it to deposit a silver paste and a suction cup for the components.



2D design software has also been added to the machine, for the first step in building an object. The user can thus design their object in a fairly simple way, as shown in the video above. This is the only step requiring human intervention.



A functional object

When the design is finished, the machine begins by cutting the material to form the chosen robot. LaserFactory then traces the connection tracks using a silver paste on a Plexiglas plate. Thanks to a suction cup, the electronic components are placed on this paste before being soldered. Once the process is complete, the device is fully functional. The demonstration video, where the LaserFactory develops a drone, could not be more impressive.

The CSAIL wishes to present an improved - and final - version of the LaserFactory in the coming months, hoping to allow the rapid design of drones, for example, for emergency operations or deliveries.



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