Jun 22, 2015 | By Kira

If mankind is good at one thing, it’s figuring out ways to make life easier. In fact, it could probably be said that the very birth of technology came from our desire to work less and enjoy more—from the invention of the wheel to electric can openers. While some inventions are somewhat questionable in their usefulness (ahem, banana slicer), others undeniably free us from mundane tasks so that we can go out and live our lives. And that is precisely what Panda, the ‘ultimate cleaning robot,’ was designed to do.

Created by industrial designer Jake Lee and named after his soon-to-be-born son’s nickname, the Panda is an improved version of Lee’s previous cleaning robot, with enhanced features such as air suction, a sweeper, and a roller brush. According to Lee, the original robot, which he designed two years ago, was too small and had to be connected to a power source, such as PC, with the cable dangling in the air—not the most convenient set up for a machine that is meant to move around freely. Thus, his newer design is a bit larger, measuring in at 17cm x 17cm, and is capable of sweeping and vacuuming both his desk and the floor. The robot chooses its directions randomly, and can detect cliffs or other obstacles.

The top, bottom and mid-housing components, as well as two battery covers, the gear box and the dust cabinet were all 3D printed on Lee’s MakerBot 2x replicator at 0.2mm resolution. According to his Instructables page, Lee printed three initial prototypes before getting all of the dimensions just right.

Image of Lee's prevoius cleaning robot design

materials needed for assembly

The robot runs on several motors for the wheels, roller, sweeper vacuum and fan blade. In terms of the electrical components, it runs on an UNO board. Lee used PRO_E modeling software, but indicates that just about any software you are comfortable with would be okay.

To reinforce the suction capabilities form his previous version, Lee added a roller with brushes and a sweeper. One of the most difficult challenges he faced in this aspect was finding a way to use gears rather than a motor to power the roller and sweeper, since it would use less battery power. The video below shows how he used three gears for the sweeper, which are then connected to the roller and a single motor. According to Lee, not only does this set-up save battery power, but it also works just fine.

You can vote for Lee’s design to win Instructables’ 3D Printing Contest here. Since he’s also planning on entering it into another contest, he hasn’t uploaded the full STL files, however his Instructables page does include step-by-step instructions, several useful vidoes, and a free download of an edrawing file, which provides details of the inner assembly work.  All in all, he spent a full month dedicated to this project, and roughly $164 Taiwanese dollars on parts—a mere $5 USD.

With his newborn son on the way, we can only imagine that Lee is going to have his hands full in the coming months, and with cleaning the floor probably the last thing on his mind, the Panda will surely have its work cut out for it.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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