“It makes a big difference in what kind of machines you can make,” said professor Daniela Rus, who oversaw the project. “If you can make complex robots really fast — print them like you print a piece of paper — you can imagine not having to worry so much about whether you lost your robot.”
The MIT team used the method to print hydraulic bellows that were filled with fluid. After adding a battery, sensors and computer to their small hydraulic robots, the robots could walk independently.
Rus said her team plans to expand and improve its work before commercializing the technology. Their current process took 22 hours to create the six-legged, 1.5-pound robots with a commercially available 3D printer — costing more than $100,000 — that they modified.