UAE university reveals cut-price 3D printed robot project

Cheaper 3D printed robots could soon replace humans in dangerous operations, thanks to a UAE University project
UAE university reveals cut-price 3D printed robot project
By Sam Bridge
Sat 03 Aug 2019 10:00 AM

Cheaper 3D printed robots could soon replace humans in dangerous operations, thanks to new research developed by researchers at the College of Information Technology at the United Arab Emirates University.

The project was established by Dr Fady Najjar, principal investigator of the AI and Robotics Lab and assistant professor at the College of Information Technology (CIT), in collaboration with Abu Dhabi-based security company Etimad R&D.

Its aim was to build a fully-operated robot to replace humans in dangerous operations, such as opening a hazardous or suspicious bag.

“You can send the robot and control it,” Najjar said. “It is well-known for replacing humans in dangerous situations or bomb disposals, but we have tried to make it cost-effective by using 3D printing technology to decrease the price of the robot.”

Every part of the robot was built from scratch, costing less than $25,000 compared to conventional robots at around $200,000, he said.

“When you buy a robot, it is usually a closed box and you just operate it. While with ours, you can replace modules based on your needs and requirements and design the parts that can fit with the need of a specific situation, so it’s more adaptable and easier to modify,” he added.

Rather than using a remote controller, the robot can be controlled through the body of the operator itself by wearing motion sensors that capture his movements and mimics it on the operated robot.

The robot took six months to build. Work is currently underway to improve the machine by adding textile sensors in the robot to ensure the operator feels any heat, or hard and soft objects.

“We are still working on it and the idea of transferring the motion of a human to a robot is still under research,” Najjar said, adding: “The challenge is to fit human kinematics because humans have more freedom and flexibility, which doesn’t represent the robot, so it is about finding the best equation that represents the human equation into the robot’s movement.”

He expects the project to be completed in six months.

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