(June 22, 2015) -- Here’s a way to expedite that apocalyptic scenario in which robots take over the world: 3-D print the robots. Electrical and computer engineering student Eric Wineman and some of his fellow students at UTSA had a similar idea, not to bring about the end of the world but for the purpose of making a quick, inexpensive and destructible robot to be used in an emergency situation.
“We figured a lot of robots are novel nowadays,” he said. “They look cool but they can’t do a whole lot yet.”
Wineman is part of the SMART program that allows him to pursue his master’s degree in electrical engineering while also working as a civilian for the military, where he uses 3-D printers daily. While a student earlier this year in Electrical and computer engineering professor Mo Jamshidi’s intelligent robotics class, Wineman and his classmates had the idea to use his experience with 3-D printing to create an intelligent, disposable robot.
“The first major advantage is cost,” he said. “In the process of manufacturing a part, you send off a drawing, get it made and hope it turns out right. With 3-D printing, the trial-and-error process is much quicker.”
Wineman’s robot has the ability to find a valve, then open and close it. This could be useful, he said, in a dangerous environment such as a boiler room with high-pressure pipes.
“Say one bursts,” he said. “You could have the robot go in there instead of risking a person’s life.”
Overall, the robot took about 100 hours to print in Jamshidi’s lab. Even though that’s not exactly lightning fast, Wineman said, it’s advantageous because students can watch the results as they form and dispose of failed parts quickly.
“3-D printing is a new approach to prototyping,” Jamshidi said. “It makes prototypes very inexpensive.”
Now, with one semester left at UTSA, Wineman is working on adding voice recognition capability to the robot, so a person can call out to it for help. Jamshidi, meanwhile, is looking forward to expanding his robotics laboratory in the fall, and expects his students to do much more work with 3-D printing.
Learn more about robotics at UTSA here.
Jenny Hsieh, professor and Semmes Foundation Chair in Cell Biology and director, UTSA Brain Health Consortium provides an engaging look into the world of gene editing.
South Texas Research Facility, 8403 Floyd Curl Dr., San Antonio
UTSA will offer science, engineering, architecture, sports, music, writing and language and culture camps for kids, teens and adults. Register now.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
Future Roadrunners and families prepare for everything they need to know before the fall semester.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
Join us for cupcakes and lots of Roadrunner spirit as we celebrate the day UTSA was created by the Texas Legislature.
Sombrilla, Main Campus and Frio Street Commons, Downtown Campus
Join us as we celebrate this momentoud day in UTSA history by paying homage to the moment Governor Preston Smith signed the legislation creating UTSA exactly 50 years ago on June 5, 1969.
The Alamo, 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio
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Arts Building, Main Art Gallery (ART 2.03.04), Main Campus
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UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
The fifth annual SAMHS and Universities Research Forum (SURF) is a regional event that highlights the latest research and discoveries of trainees, faculty, staff and students working to improve health outcomes.
H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.106),Main Campus
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