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Scientists Create Shock Absorbable Programmabl
Aug 23, 2018

As enthusiasts know, one of the biggest problems with today's drones is that they break easily.This is mainly because they do not have proper protection.But this week scientists at MIT's computer science and artificial intelligence laboratory developed a new way to 3D print soft materials that could allow drones or robots to move more safely, precisely, and enhance their durability.

The researchers are known to use a new type of material called "programmable viscoelastic material (PVM)," which allows users to program each part of a 3D printed object to get the desired level of stiffness and elasticity.

For example, after 3D printing of a square machine that can be moved by bouncing, the researchers equipped it with this "skin" that can absorb the shock, reducing the amount of energy transmitted to the ground to only one in 250.

"" this reduction in impact force can prevent a drone from breaking or disconnecting its rotor when it hits the ground." "CSAIL director Daniela Rus said he was responsible for the project and co-author of a related paper."These materials also enable us to 3D print robots with viscoelastic properties."

The researchers say the skin quadruples the accuracy of a robot or drone landing, and a similar shock absorber could help extend the life of a transport drone.

The research paper will be released next week at the IEEE/RSJ international conference on intelligent robots and systems in South Korea. Its authors include Rus and its three postdoctoral fellows -- lead author Robert MacCurdy, Jeffrey Lipton and third author Shuguang Li.

You might think, isn't this a common material for cushioning?What's so great about it?However, the property and damping level of similar materials such as rubber or plastic on the market are fixed, which is time-consuming and costly to customize according to specific requirements.

The team's solution is 3D printing.By adding materials with different mechanical properties to the design, 3D printing allows users to "program" the materials according to the exact needs of different parts of the object.

So what did they do?Using a standard 3D printer, the team printed out the square robot and its skin using a solid, a liquid and a flexible rubber material called TangoBlack +.They use an inkjet technology to deposit droplets of different materials layer by layer, and then use UV light to solidify these non-liquid materials.

The square robot consists of a rigid body, two motors, a microcontroller, a battery and an inertial measurement unit sensor, the researchers said.In addition, the researchers used a four-layer ring metal belt as a spring to propel the square robot.

"This study greatly expands the range of possible applications of 3D printing by combining multiple materials to achieve properties that a single material cannot."Hod Lipson, a professor of engineering at Columbia University and author of "3D printing: from imagination to reality," commented."" most importantly, they are now able to do this with just one print job." "

According to Rus, the programmable viscoelastic material (PVM) can be used for many other protective purposes, including cushioning running shoes and hats.And by reducing the vibration of the motor on the robot, PVM not only protects sensitive components like cameras and sensors, but also makes the robot easier to control.