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Customization and fabrication of the appearance for humanoid robot

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Designing a robot’s appearance is a challenging task because the design should be both aesthetically appealing and physically functional. Therefore, this task was previously limited to experts with professional knowledge and experiences. Given the increasing popularity of consumer-level robots, non-professional users are expecting tools that allow them to customize their robot appearance. We address this challenge with the technology of additive manufacturing and propose an end-to-end solution to customize and fabricate the robot appearance for non-professional users. The input to our solution is a triangular character mesh (commonly used in feature animations and video games) and the output is a set of 3D-printing-ready shell parts. The complete solution includes matching the shape of the character mesh with the robot endoskeleton, optimizing the shape design to maximally avoid collisions and adjusting the motion trajectories to adapt to new shell design. This approach requires no professional background in engineering design and efficiently produces accurate prototypes of robot shells. Both virtual and physically printed designs are demonstrated on a consumer level humanoid robot to validate the feasibility of our method.

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This research, which is carried out at BeingThere Centre, collaboration among IMI of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore, ETH Zürich, and UNC Chapel Hill, is supported by the Singapore National Research Foundation (NRF) under its International Research Centre @ Singapore Funding Initiative and administered by the Interactive Digital Media Programme Office (IDMPO).

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Correspondence to Shihui Guo.

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Supplementary material 1 (mp4 11960 KB)

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Guo, S., Xu, H., Thalmann, N.M. et al. Customization and fabrication of the appearance for humanoid robot. Vis Comput 33, 63–74 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00371-016-1329-6

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  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Humanoid Robot
  • Sequential Quadratic Programming
  • Collision Detection
  • Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene