Mar.12, 2014

He moves, he talks and likes to express his personality. Roboy is a 3D printed humanoid that can actually show emotions and designed to help doctors and scientists better understand how the brain and body interact.

Roboy can move its limbs thanks to its 48 muscles, it can also say "I can be happy," with appropriate facial expression, or "I can be angry," with its face turning red.

Roboy was built at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Zurich during a nine-months period. The development has been directed by Prof. Dr. Rolf Pfeifer and totally 15 project partners, over 40 engineers and scientists has been working on this project.

"Roboy is supposed to become a platform for doctors to train. They are supposed to diagnose illnesses that Roboy will simulate." said Rafael Hostettler, manager of the Roboy project at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.

Creating humanoid robots presents researchers with great challenges. Elements such as quick, smooth movements or robust, flexible yet soft skin are difficult to recreate. The creators used 3D-printed bones and joints, tendons, and coiled springs in muscles to build the Roboy robot. Roboy's muscles are modular, replicated throughout his body.

"Roboy is a little more humanoid than most humanoids. Not only did we imitate shape and look of a human but also the functionality. We especially tried to build in muscles and sinews into the joints instead of motors. We want to understand how it works." said Hostettler.

The team uses thick, coiled springs in Roboy's muscles to imitate human muscles. With paired actuators operating in opposition at each joint and wires in place of ligaments, its musculature is much like human muscles.

The most intriguing part was roboy's hand which was printed in one piece including the joints. The complexity of the part, which includes small cable channels, spring mounting and a rotational joint that mimics the natural rotation of the ulna and radius bones would not have been possible with any other manufacturing technology and truly shows how the consequent use of 3D printing made the creation of roboy possible.

In a cooperation between the Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence of the University of Zurich and the EU research project Myorobotics, led by the Robotics and Embedded Systems Laboratory of TU Munich, Roboy's muscles, joints and electronics are being further developed.

The goal of the project is to simply better understand how we work and use the lesson to improve industrial production, Hostettler said.

"There might be applications in prosthetics," Hostettler said, saying simulating illnesses could help to bring down the cost of teaching doctors.

Roboy has been financed was financed by exclusive sponsors and through crowd funding. In return for contributions, every supporter will has his name or logo engraved on Roboy.

The team also plans to offer the CAD data and source code to the public so any individuals or organizations can download and build one themselves. The software as well as hardware of Roboy Junior will be released into public domain, but you will be required to keep a reference to the team in your code.

The only problem is the cost. It will cost you around 200K euro to build such a robot at home, according to Hostettler.

Roboy was presented a year ago in March 2013 in Zurich. Since then, Roboy has started its own tour around the world, showing his skill and unique design at exhibitions and theatres. On the 9th of March 2014 he's turning one year old and he is celebrating his birthday at CeBIT. Roboy is presented in CeBIT halls in the northern German city of Hanover.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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