Feb 17, 2017 | By Julia

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Swiss robotics group Devanthro have 3D printed a four-foot robotic humanoid complete with tendons, muscles, and bones. Meet Roboy Junior, the first prototype of the Roboy initiative, which recently scored substantial funding from additive manufacturing heavyweight EOS.

More than just an adorable face, Roboy Junior represents a new breakthrough in 3D printing robotics. “The goal of the Roboy project is to advance humanoid robotics to the capability of human bodies,” says an official press release. “The vision is to iteratively improve Roboy models until the performance is comparable to humans in dexterity, robustness and flexibility.”

And with little Roboy Junior, Devanthro and TUM have come one step closer to making that vision a reality. The four-foot tall humanoid features “real” muscles and tendons in his joints, rather than motors, which are more commonly seen in AI developments.

But what sets Roboy Junior apart from the countless AI initiatives proceeding today? Several unique aspects are worth noting here.

As Dr. Adrian Keppler, Chief Marketing Officer at EOS explains, “While a larger number of companies focusses on AI development, only a very small number of projects worldwide develop humanoid robotics.”

There are a few advantages to the idea of a human-like humanoid. For starters, the human musculoskeletal system has been proven as a successful model for dexterous, dynamic and robust robots. In other words, we’ve evolved into relatively advanced biological systems ourselves – in that sense, our own physiology is the best working model we have for constructing embodied AI. Secondly, a human-like robot helps facilitate easy and intuitive interactions between human and machine. It’s an interface we understand and are familiar with.

Beyond the remarkable human-like features, though, Roboy Junior is different from other AI projects in another important way. 3D printing is utilized here in ways never seen before in robotics.

“As the strengths of Additive Manufacturing lie in those areas where conventional manufacturing reaches its limitations, EOS’ technology is the ideal solution for a research project as ambitious as Roboy,” says Keppler. “We are happy that the Roboy team is trusting in EOS to realize their vision.”

Roboy Junior’s complete skeletal body structure was built with EOS systems for Plastic Additive Manufacturing. This allows for the construction of complex functional structures which are both light and stable. As a result, the Roboy team reports that it is able to implement functionality directly into the geometrical parts, while reducing unnecessary assembly steps. Roboy Junior’s hands are forearms are manufactured in a single piece, including several joints and individual phalanxes for each humanoid finger.

While Roboy Junior is still just a prototype, the news of EOS’ substantial support bodes well for project development. In the meantime, TUM and Devanthro are marching steadily forward, suggesting that, one day in the not-too-distant future, we may all be proud parents of our own little Roboys.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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