Nov.13, 2014

Self-replicating robots are an optimal solution for space exploration. Many teams in the world have been working on developing self-replicating, autonomous robots which will allow human efficiently explore those extrasolar planets. With the development of 3D printing technology, self-replicating robots are no longer the stuff of science fiction. Ambitious 15-year-old Rueben Pretorius, Mathew Whyte and Jared Rheeders have designed and created a working prototype of a space ready 3D printer which will be showcased at the World Robotics Olympiad (WRO) in Russia this month.

Rueben Pretorius, Mathew Whyte and Jared Rheeders began working on robotics three years ago. Their latest creation is a complex and advanced robot 'Delta 3'. Delta 3 features a Delta style RepRap 3D printer and a LEGO EV3 controller. It can print most of its own parts and works with many materials. The Delta 3 is also designed for easy transport: the caterpillar tracks on the bottom make it mobile and portable.

The team, called Space Invaders, designed Delta 3 to assist humans on the Mars One Mission. "To comply with demands that astronauts have to endure in space, our engineers have designed a mobile 3D printer that integrates Delta geometry to create structures and parts at very high and accurate standards," says Whyte.

"We used LEGO EV3 as our main processor to manage the Arduino micro controller that controls the printer. With the use of the EV3 giro sensor, we were able to create a comprehensive programme that empowers Delta 3 to locate suitable working surfaces," says Pretorius.

The teens have been invited to represent South Africa to join the World Robotics Olympiad (WRO) which will be held from 21 to 23 November in Sochi Olympic Park in Russia. The WRO is a Lego-based global robotics competition for children between 7 and 19 years old in which teams use their creativity and problem solving skills in constructing smart robotic solutions.

Although the Delta 3 isn't quite space ready yet, this is still an ambitious project. The team hopes that one day the Delta 3 will be capable of displaying a higher degree of initiative and adaptation to support different tasks in space.

Watch the video below the Delta 3 in action:

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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