Juan Cristóbal Zagal is the innovator behind a robot, dubbed OctaWorm, capable of navigating tight spaces and squeezing into pipes.
“The current version of the robot is capable of traveling inside a pipe. It is also capable of dealing with changes on the internal diameter of the pipe. The functional symmetry of the robot allows it to travel along T, L and Y joints in pipelines. Traditional in-pipe robots have many problems for dealing with these types of junctions. In contrast the deformable octahedral robotcan simply squeeze into junctions,” Zagal told 3D Print. (You can watch it in motion above)
The project started as a collaboration between the University of Chile and the University of Akron and was aimed at designing a robot that could navigate collapsed buildings, inside pipes and other places difficult to traverse.
Eventually, Zagal wants to take his OctaWorm miniature, so that it may be used one day to navigate the human body and other tiny spaces.
Meanwhile, Zagal, who is the head of the robotics laboratory at the University of Chile, said that 3D printing was crucial to making the first OctaWorm robots a reality.
“The use of 3D printing was critical for producing joinery parts that allow connecting the linear actuators. We also used 3D printing for producing high definition ball joints. The ball joints were fabricated using a Stratasys Objet 3D printer. The remaining 3D printed parts were produced with an FDM 3D printer,” Zagal explained about his innovative robotic design.
Photo Credit: 3D Print