Imagine going to a local store, picking out a design for a robot to help with some household chores, and having the device built within a matter of hours.
That is the vision of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where a five-year, $10 million project to bring the power of robots to the average person is just getting started.
The first two designs under consideration for prototypes include an insect-like machine that could be sent to explore a contaminated area, and an arm-extension device that could help people grip things that are out of reach.
The idea is eventually to create a library of home robotic designs that customers could choose from at a local store, select a blueprint and customize and build their own device from paper or plastic within 24 hours.
“This project aims to dramatically reduce the development time for a variety of useful robots, opening the doors to potential applications in manufacturing, education, personalized healthcare, and even disaster relief,” said Rob Wood, an associate professor at Harvard University.