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Fabbers--machines that rapidly create useful items on demand from computer-generated design specifications--have been fantasy fodder for decades.

With such machines, people can, in effect, 'download' such complex objects as bicycles, chemical sensors, radios--and eventually robots, and maybe even prosthetic limbs--much as they now download music and video files.

At Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., my group in the Cornell Computational Synthesis Laboratory has taken the first steps toward what we hope will be a significant milestone: the creation of a fabricating system that can produce small, simple robots incorporating a battery, actuators, and sensors.

And just as desktop-printer cartridges contain the inks that can produce a limitless variety of images, the fabber cartridges would contain the necessary raw materials to create a profusion of desired items.

These include some systems for electronics and others for mechanical prototypes--but none, crucially, that can rapidly create a prototype of an object incorporating both electronic components (such as resistors) with mechanical ones (such as ball joints).

The machines read data describing slices of a computer model and, using one of several methods, lay down successive thin layers of liquid or powdered polymers, ceramics, or metals.

The industrial rapid-prototyping systems use inks, pastes, and suspensions that are combinations of filaments, powders, flakes, precursors, cross-linkers, binders, solvents, dispersants, and surfactants, whose properties--including viscosity, density, melting point, and surface tension--are tailored to particular applications.

Currently, rapid prototypers can fashion plastics, ceramics, and certain metals into almost any kind of mechanical structure, including sliding and rotary kinematic joints, links, springs, gears, ratchets, nuts, and bolts, with quality good enough for functional testing.

For electrical engineers, direct-write methods for creating electronic prototypes have progressed from their origins as simple plotters for electronic circuits to an emerging family of commercial machines.

Today's most advanced direct-write techniques work not only on flat boards but also on nonplanar substrates, flexible plastic substrates, and even textiles to make flexible and compact circuits that conform to the tight space requirements of certain consumer products.

DARPA is funding a project by Potomac Photonics Inc., in Lanham, Md., to develop and commercialize laser-based direct-write tools that can deposit metal, dielectric, and ferrite materials onto a variety of substrates by melting a stream of powdered material such as titanium.

Another DARPA-funded company, MesoScribe Technologies Inc., in Stony Brook, N.Y., has developed a thermal-spray technique that accelerates particles to directly write a thermocouple on a curved, ceramic-coated gas turbine blade to monitor the heat of fuel combustion.

For one thing, rapid prototyping is something of a misnomer: with typical printing rates of about 1 cubic inch per hour, it can take as long as a day to produce even a simple plastic shape representing a toaster in one of today's solid-freeform fabrication systems.

Finally, the range of materials rapid-prototyping systems can work with, while expanding, still does not include materials that produce motion in response to electrical impulses, and chemical systems and separators that can be used to make batteries.

When we talk about printing objects from a desktop fabber, we mean that inkjet printer nozzles that spray micrometer-size droplets of materials for thin films will work side by side with high-tech extruders--called fused-deposition modelers--that dispense thicker materials.

The machine will build objects according to software instructions by sequentially depositing onto a substrate a variety of liquids chemically tailored to provide certain mechanical or electrical functions, or both, once they dry.

For several years, our group and others, such as the robotics group at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, N.J., have used fused-deposition modeling and the oldest form of solid-freeform fabrication, called stereolithography, to make parts of small robots that include intact joints with balls printed inside their sockets.

The ability to print actuators and batteries directly from raw materials would not only save assembly time and effort, it also would allow us to explore new structures for the devices, as well as better ways to integrate them with the system.

We designed our gantry robot to accelerate a 5-kilogram payload with 25-micrometer precision very fast--20 meters per second squared--so the print head can follow paths having tight turning radii without slowing down, to maintain a constant deposition rate.

It directly deposits material at adjustable rates in a continuous stream by unwinding a filament 0.13 to 0.18 centimeters in diameter from a coil and delivering it to a computer-controlled, heated nozzle.

To deposit liquid and chemical pastes--for instance, material for conductive wires, polymer films for actuators, and suspended zinc powder for batteries--we use a syringe tool that accepts standard commercial syringe barrels and plungers.

Power source in hand, we turned our attention to the mechanism for moving our freeform robots, and began formulating a novel, and cheaply manufacturable, liquid starter material for actuators.

A voltage applied across the electrodes embedded in the membrane's surface causes the material to bend, probably as a result of migration of positively charged ions toward the cathode, along with some other chemical effects.

To solve the cracking problem, we added a solvent, dimethylformamide, to the raw actuator material and heated the cast film for 15 minutes at 135 degrees centigrade.

Now we are working with low-melting-point metal alloys, such as lead-tin solder, and conductive rubber to produce wiring to serve as our robotic nervous system, and with carbon-based electronic materials to print transistors for robotic brains.

Furthermore, we need to develop standard file formats to specify multimaterial objects so people can freely exchange design blueprints, just as the Adobe PostScript standard was developed to communicate with laser printers.

The gantry robot worked well for our zinc-air batteries, but imagine if we had a robot that allowed both the object and the writing head to move in six degrees of freedom on articulated arms.

The added flexibility allows more control over spatial orientations--which may be important in achieving some mechanical and electrical properties, such as orienting fibers along stress concentration paths and depositing conductive wires in continuous strokes.

Whereas much of the current hype surrounding fabbers centers on the practically endless possibilities for home use, the first commercial success for multimaterial rapid prototyping might be synthetic implants for medical applications.

Pollack, a professor at Brandeis University, in Waltham, Mass., we developed a program that--for the first time--designed and fabricated mobile robots with nearly no human intervention [see photo, ].The design automation program emulated principles of natural evolution, with hundreds of robots over hundreds of generations in a simulated world.

Removing the constraints on the way we manufacture and consume everything from watches, toys, and cellphones to MP3 players, mops, and meat cleavers might let us create a whole new kind of economy for a custom-built world.

A method for detection of randomly placed objects for robotic handling

The image based systems still have open issues in order to meet the latest manufacturing requirements for simplicity, low cost as well as the limited maintenance requirements.

The method has been implemented in a software tool using MATLAB® and has been applied to a consumer goods case for the recognition of shaver handles.

Industrial robot

Industrial robots are automated, programmable and capable of movement on two or more axes.[1] Typical applications of robots include welding, painting, assembly, pick and place for printed circuit boards, packaging and labeling, palletizing, product inspection, and testing;

The most commonly used robot configurations are articulated robots, SCARA robots, delta robots and cartesian coordinate robots, (gantry robots or x-y-z robots).

They were accurate to within 1/10,000 of an inch[citation needed] (note: although accuracy is not an appropriate measure for robots, usually evaluated in terms of repeatability - see later).

The setup or programming of motions and sequences for an industrial robot is typically taught by linking the robot controller to a laptop, desktop computer or (internal or Internet) network.

Teaching the robot positions may be achieved a number of ways: Positional commands The robot can be directed to the required position using a GUI or text based commands in which the required X-Y-Z position may be specified and edited.

It can also increase the level of safety associated with robotic equipment since various 'what if' scenarios can be tried and tested before the system is activated.[8] Robot simulation software provides a platform to teach, test, run, and debug programs that have been written in a variety of programming languages.

The ability to preview the behavior of a robotic system in a virtual world allows for a variety of mechanisms, devices, configurations and controllers to be tried and tested before being applied to a 'real world' system.

Robotics simulators have the ability to provide real-time computing of the simulated motion of an industrial robot using both geometric modeling and kinematics modeling.[9] Others In addition, machine operators often use user interface devices, typically touchscreen units, which serve as the operator control panel.

The operator can switch from program to program, make adjustments within a program and also operate a host of peripheral devices that may be integrated within the same robotic system.

These include end effectors, feeders that supply components to the robot, conveyor belts, emergency stop controls, machine vision systems, safety interlock systems, bar code printers and an almost infinite array of other industrial devices which are accessed and controlled via the operator control panel.

Common examples of end effectors include welding devices (such as MIG-welding guns, spot-welders, etc.), spray guns and also grinding and deburring devices (such as pneumatic disk or belt grinders, burrs, etc.), and grippers (devices that can grasp an object, usually electromechanical or pneumatic).

For a given robot the only parameters necessary to completely locate the end effector (gripper, welding torch, etc.) of the robot are the angles of each of the joints or displacements of the linear axes (or combinations of the two for robot formats such as SCARA).

In addition, depending on the types of joints a particular robot may have, the orientation of the end effector in yaw, pitch, and roll and the location of the tool point relative to the robot's faceplate must also be specified.

For example, a robot which is moving items from one place to another might have a simple 'pick and place' program similar to the following: Define points P1–P5: Define program: For examples of how this would look in popular robot languages see industrial robot programming.

The American National Standard for Industrial Robots and Robot Systems — Safety Requirements (ANSI/RIA R15.06-1999) defines a singularity as “a condition caused by the collinear alignment of two or more robot axes resulting in unpredictable robot motion and velocities.” It is most common in robot arms that utilize a “triple-roll wrist”.

second type of singularity in wrist-partitioned vertically articulated six-axis robots occurs when the wrist center lies on a cylinder that is centered about axis 1 and with radius equal to the distance between axes 1 and 4.

Including the cost of software, peripherals and systems engineering, the annual turnover for robot systems is estimated to be US$40.0 billion in 2016.[10] China is the largest industrial robot market, with 87,000 units sold in 2016.[10] Japan has the largest operational stock of industrial robots, with 286,554 at the end of 2015.[11] The biggest customer of industrial robots is automotive industry with 35% market share, then electrical/electronics industry with 31%, metal and machinery industry with 8%, rubber and plastics industry with 5%, food industry with 3%.[10] In textiles, apparel and leather industry, 1,580 units are operational.[12] Estimated worldwide annual supply of industrial robots (in units):[10] The International Federation of Robotics has predicted a worldwide increase in adoption of industrial robots and they estimated 1.7 million new robot installations in factories worldwide by 2020 [IFR 2017].

fixed robots, collaborative and mobile robots, and exoskeletons) have the potential to improve work conditions but also to introduce workplace hazards in manufacturing workplaces.[13] [1] Despite the lack of occupational surveillance data on injuries associated specifically with robots, researchers from the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) identified 61 robot-related deaths between 1992 and 2015 using keyword searches of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries research database (see info from Center for Occupational Robotics Research).

Safety standards are being developed by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) in conjunction with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).[2] On October 5, 2017, OSHA, NIOSH and RIA signed an alliance to work together to enhance technical expertise, identify and help address potential workplace hazards associated with traditional industrial robots and the emerging technology of human-robot collaboration installations and systems, and help identify needed research to reduce workplace hazards.

So far, the research needs identified by NIOSH and its partners include: tracking and preventing injuries and fatalities, intervention and dissemination strategies to promote safe machine control and maintenance procedures, and on translating effective evidence-based interventions into workplace practice.


Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that includes mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and others.

The concept of creating machines that can operate autonomously dates back to classical times, but research into the functionality and potential uses of robots did not grow substantially until the 20th century.[1] Throughout history, it has been frequently assumed that robots will one day be able to mimic human behavior and manage tasks in a human-like fashion.

Robots are widely used in manufacturing, assembly, packing and packaging, mining, transport, earth and space exploration, surgery, weaponry, laboratory research, safety, and the mass production of consumer and industrial goods.[5] There are many types of robots;

they are used in many different environments and for many different uses, although being very diverse in application and form they all share three basic similarities when it comes to their construction: As more and more robots are designed for specific tasks this method of classification becomes more relevant.

flexure is designed as part of the motor actuator, to improve safety and provide robust force control, energy efficiency, shock absorption (mechanical filtering) while reducing excessive wear on the transmission and other mechanical components.

It has been used in various robots, particularly advanced manufacturing robots and[33] walking humanoid robots.[34] Pneumatic artificial muscles, also known as air muscles, are special tubes that expand(typically up to 40%) when air is forced inside them.

They have been used for some small robot applications.[38][39] EAPs or EPAMs are a new[when?] plastic material that can contract substantially (up to 380% activation strain) from electricity, and have been used in facial muscles and arms of humanoid robots,[40] and to enable new robots to float,[41] fly, swim or walk.[42] Recent alternatives to DC motors are piezo motors or ultrasonic motors.

The advantages of these motors are nanometer resolution, speed, and available force for their size.[44] These motors are already available commercially, and being used on some robots.[45][46] Elastic nanotubes are a promising artificial muscle technology in early-stage experimental development.

Recent research has developed a tactile sensor array that mimics the mechanical properties and touch receptors of human fingertips.[48][49] The sensor array is constructed as a rigid core surrounded by conductive fluid contained by an elastomeric skin.

Some have a fixed manipulator which cannot be replaced, while a few have one very general purpose manipulator, for example, a humanoid hand.[53] Learning how to manipulate a robot often requires a close feedback between human to the robot, although there are several methods for remote manipulation of robots.[54] One of the most common effectors is the gripper.

Fingers can for example, be made of a chain with a metal wire run through it.[55] Hands that resemble and work more like a human hand include the Shadow Hand and the Robonaut hand.[56] Hands that are of a mid-level complexity include the Delft hand.[57][58] Mechanical grippers can come in various types, including friction and encompassing jaws.

Some advanced robots are beginning to use fully humanoid hands, like the Shadow Hand, MANUS,[60] and the Schunk hand.[61] These are highly dexterous manipulators, with as many as 20 degrees of freedom and hundreds of tactile sensors.[62] For simplicity, most mobile robots have four wheels or a number of continuous tracks.

Balancing robots generally use a gyroscope to detect how much a robot is falling and then drive the wheels proportionally in the same direction, to counterbalance the fall at hundreds of times per second, based on the dynamics of an inverted pendulum.[63] Many different balancing robots have been designed.[64] While the Segway is not commonly thought of as a robot, it can be thought of as a component of a robot, when used as such Segway refer to them as RMP (Robotic Mobility Platform).

Several one-wheeled balancing robots have been designed recently, such as Carnegie Mellon University's 'Ballbot' that is the approximate height and width of a person, and Tohoku Gakuin University's 'BallIP'.[66] Because of the long, thin shape and ability to maneuver in tight spaces, they have the potential to function better than other robots in environments with people.[67] Several attempts have been made in robots that are completely inside a spherical ball, either by spinning a weight inside the ball,[68][69] or by rotating the outer shells of the sphere.[70][71] These have also been referred to as an orb bot[72] or a ball bot.[73][74] Using six wheels instead of four wheels can give better traction or grip in outdoor terrain such as on rocky dirt or grass.

There has been much study on human inspired walking, such as AMBER lab which was established in 2008 by the Mechanical Engineering Department at Texas AM University.[76] Many other robots have been built that walk on more than two legs, due to these robots being significantly easier to construct.[77][78] Walking robots can be used for uneven terrains, which would provide better mobility and energy efficiency than other locomotion methods.

The robot's onboard computer tries to keep the total inertial forces (the combination of Earth's gravity and the acceleration and deceleration of walking), exactly opposed by the floor reaction force (the force of the floor pushing back on the robot's foot).

In this way, the two forces cancel out, leaving no moment (force causing the robot to rotate and fall over).[79] However, this is not exactly how a human walks, and the difference is obvious to human observers, some of whom have pointed out that ASIMO walks as if it needs the lavatory.[80][81][82] ASIMO's walking algorithm is not static, and some dynamic balancing is used (see below).

more advanced way for a robot to walk is by using a dynamic balancing algorithm, which is potentially more robust than the Zero Moment Point technique, as it constantly monitors the robot's motion, and places the feet in order to maintain stability.[87] This technique was recently demonstrated by Anybots' Dexter Robot,[88] which is so stable, it can even jump.[89] Another example is the TU Delft Flame.

Mimicking the way real snakes move, these robots can navigate very confined spaces, meaning they may one day be used to search for people trapped in collapsed buildings.[93] The Japanese ACM-R5 snake robot[94] can even navigate both on land and in water.[95] A

It has four legs, with unpowered wheels, which can either step or roll.[96] Another robot, Plen, can use a miniature skateboard or roller-skates, and skate across a desktop.[97] Several different approaches have been used to develop robots that have the ability to climb vertical surfaces.

Therefore, many researchers studying underwater robots would like to copy this type of locomotion.[102] Notable examples are the Essex University Computer Science Robotic Fish G9,[103] and the Robot Tuna built by the Institute of Field Robotics, to analyze and mathematically model thunniform motion.[104] The Aqua Penguin,[105] designed and built by Festo of Germany, copies the streamlined shape and propulsion by front 'flippers' of penguins.

It was the first robotic fish capable of outperforming real carangiform fish in terms of average maximum velocity (measured in body lengths/ second) and endurance, the duration that top speed is maintained.[106] This build attained swimming speeds of 11.6BL/s (i.e.

3.7 m/s).[107] The first build, iSplash-I (2014) was the first robotic platform to apply a full-body length carangiform swimming motion which was found to increase swimming speed by 27% over the traditional approach of a posterior confined waveform.[108] Sailboat robots have also been developed in order to make measurements at the surface of the ocean.

Interpreting the continuous flow of sounds coming from a human, in real time, is a difficult task for a computer, mostly because of the great variability of speech.[110] The same word, spoken by the same person may sound different depending on local acoustics, volume, the previous word, whether or not the speaker has a cold, etc..

It becomes even harder when the speaker has a different accent.[111] Nevertheless, great strides have been made in the field since Davis, Biddulph, and Balashek designed the first 'voice input system' which recognized 'ten digits spoken by a single user with 100% accuracy' in 1952.[112] Currently, the best systems can recognize continuous, natural speech, up to 160 words per minute, with an accuracy of 95%.[113] Other hurdles exist when allowing the robot to use voice for interacting with humans.

For social reasons, synthetic voice proves suboptimal as a communication medium,[114] making it necessary to develop the emotional component of robotic voice through various techniques.[115][116] One can imagine, in the future, explaining to a robot chef how to make a pastry, or asking directions from a robot police officer.

It is likely that gestures will make up a part of the interaction between humans and robots.[117] A great many systems have been developed to recognize human hand gestures.[118] Facial expressions can provide rapid feedback on the progress of a dialog between two humans, and soon may be able to do the same for humans and robots.

Robotic faces have been constructed by Hanson Robotics using their elastic polymer called Frubber, allowing a large number of facial expressions due to the elasticity of the rubber facial coating and embedded subsurface motors (servos).[119] The coating and servos are built on a metal skull.

Likewise, robots like Kismet and the more recent addition, Nexi[120] can produce a range of facial expressions, allowing it to have meaningful social exchanges with humans.[121] Artificial emotions can also be generated, composed of a sequence of facial expressions and/or gestures.

Researchers use this method both to create better robots,[129] and to explore the nature of evolution.[130] Because the process often requires many generations of robots to be simulated,[131] this technique may be run entirely or mostly in simulation, then tested on real robots once the evolved algorithms are good enough.[132] Currently, there are about 10 million industrial robots toiling around the world, and Japan is the top country having high density of utilizing robots in its manufacturing industry.[citation needed] The study of motion can be divided into kinematics and dynamics.[133] Direct kinematics refers to the calculation of end effector position, orientation, velocity, and acceleration when the corresponding joint values are known.

Robotics engineers design robots, maintain them, develop new applications for them, and conduct research to expand the potential of robotics.[134] Robots have become a popular educational tool in some middle and high schools, particularly in parts of the USA,[135] as well as in numerous youth summer camps, raising interest in programming, artificial intelligence, and robotics among students.

First-year computer science courses at some universities now include programming of a robot in addition to traditional software engineering-based coursework.[54] Universities offer bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in the field of robotics.[136] Vocational schools offer robotics training aimed at careers in robotics.

As factories increase their use of robots, the number of robotics–related jobs grow and have been observed to be steadily rising.[139] The employment of robots in industries has increased productivity and efficiency savings and is typically seen as a long term investment for benefactors.

discussion paper drawn up by EU-OSHA highlights how the spread of robotics presents both opportunities and challenges for occupational safety and health (OSH).[142] The greatest OSH benefits stemming from the wider use of robotics should be substitution for people working in unhealthy or dangerous environments.

In space, defence, security, or the nuclear industry, but also in logistics, maintenance, and inspection, autonomous robots are particularly useful in replacing human workers performing dirty, dull or unsafe tasks, thus avoiding workers' exposures to hazardous agents and conditions and reducing physical, ergonomic and psychosocial risks.

In the future, many other highly repetitive, risky or unpleasant tasks will be performed by robots in a variety of sectors like agriculture, construction, transport, healthcare, firefighting or cleaning services.[143] Despite these advances, there are certain skills to which humans will be better suited than machines for some time to come and the question is how to achieve the best combination of human and robot skills.

This need to combine optimal skills has resulted in collaborative robots and humans sharing a common workspace more closely and led to the development of new approaches and standards to guarantee the safety of the 'man-robot merger'.

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