Siemens’s spider make plastic products not webs

portable.3dx1000Siemens thinks that it will not just be engineers, designers, and workmen on a project, but an army of small robot spiders, 3D printing and weaving together plastic.

In a lab in Princeton, New Jersey, the company’s researchers are testing spider-like robots that extrude not silk but plastic, thanks to portable 3-D printers. The robots can work together autonomously to create simple objects.

The robots use onboard cameras as well as a laser scanner to interpret their immediate environment. Each robot autonomously works out which part of an area it can cover, while other robots use the same technique to cover adjacent areas.

The project leader Hasan Sinan Bank said that by dividing each area into vertical boxes, the robots can work collaboratively to cover even complex geometries in such a way that no box is missed.

“No one else has attempted to do this using mobile manufacturing,” he said.

The work in shifts,  after two hours of work, a tired spider will transmit its data to a replacement, and then walk back and recharge itself.

The technology is all new but could be earmarked for large projects like shipbuilding or construction work.

The robots are partially automated, but will eventually become more fully autonomous, learning how to interact with their environment.

Of course it is not a real spider, it only has six legs, but it might grow a pair and the project develops.