Flexoskeleton printing: Fabricating flexible exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots

Insects typically have a variety of complex exoskeleton structures, which support them in their movements and everyday activities. Fabricating artificial exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots that match the complexity of these naturally-occurring structures is a key challenge in the field of robotics.
Flexoskeleton printing: fabricating flexible exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots

Although researchers have proposed several  and techniques to produce exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots, many of these methods are extremely complex or rely on expensive equipment and materials. This makes them unfeasible and difficult to apply on a wider scale.

With this in mind, researchers at the University of California in San Diego have recently developed a new process to design and fabricate components for insect-inspired robots with  structures. They introduced this process, called flexoskeleton printing, in a paper prepublished on arXiv.

“Inspired by the insect exoskeleton, we present a new  process called ‘flexoskeleton’ printing that enables rapid and accessible fabrication of hybrid rigid/soft robots,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

So far, hybrid robots with both rigid and soft components have been typically built using expensive materials and 3-D printers, as well as multi-step casting and machine processes. In their study, the research team at UC San Diego set out to create a new fabrication method that is cheaper and easier to use.

Flexoskeleton printing: fabricating flexible exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots

a) A figure explaining how the printing process introduced by the researchers works. b) A four-legged robot created using the researchers’ method, immediately after printing on clear PC layer. c) The four legged robot after release from the PC layer. Credit: Jiang, Zhou & Gravish.

Flexoskeleton printing, the method they developed, relies on an adaptation of a consumer grade fused deposition material (FDM) 3-D printer, which provides an extremely strong bond strength between the deposited material and the printer’s flexible base layer. This process can be used to create exoskeletons for insect-inspired robots with different shapes and morphologies.

Remarkably, the fabrication approach proposed by the researchers can be used by both novice and expert users, as it is fairly straightforward and easy to understand. It is also far more affordable than alternative fabrication methods, as the materials and equipment it relies on are considerably cheap and readily available.

In their study, the team demonstrated the feasibility of their approach by using it to design and test a wide variety of canonical flexoskeleton elements. They then combined all the elements they produced into a walking four-legged  with a flexible exoskeleton structure.

“The approach we have developed relies heavily on the interrelationships between three dimensional geometry of surface features and their contributions to the local mechanical properties of that component,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “We envision that this method will enable a new class of bio-inspired robots with focus on the interrelationships between  and locomotion.”

In the future, the new design and fabrication process devised by this team of researchers could enable the development of numerous insect-inspired robots. As the technique is far more straightforward and affordable than most existing methods, it could also make existing or new robots easier to scale up, increasing their chances of being produced in larger quantities and appearing on the market.


More information: Flexoskeleton printing for versatile insect-inspired robots. arXiv:1911.06897 [cs.RO]. arxiv.org/abs/1911.06897

Gorlov helical wind turbine from my 3D printer

The Quietrevolution-Gorlov helical turbine (GHT) is a water turbine evolved from the Darrieus turbine design by altering it to have helical blades/foils. The physical principles of the GHT work are the same as for its main prototype, the Darrieus turbine, and for the family of similar vertical axis wind turbines which includes also Turby wind turbine, aerotecture turbine, Quietrevolution wind turbine, etc. GHT, Turby and Quietrevolution solved pulsatory torque issues by using the helical twist of the blades.

The resulting work, all mechanically printed completely on a 3D printer. A DC motor with a permanent magnet serves as a generator. The motor voltage at the output is 1.8V / 1 RPS.

Wiki:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quietrevolution_wind_turbine

How to make your own deep learning accelerator chip!

AI Landscape by Shan Tang : Source

Orange Pi AI Stick Lite packs 5.6 TOPS Gryfalcon GPU

Shenzhen Xunlong Software’s $19.90 “Orange Pi AI Stick Lite” USB stick features a GTI Lightspeeur SPR2801S NPU at up to 5.6 TOPS @ 100MHz. It’s supported with free, Linux-based AI model transformation tools.

Shenzhen Xunlong Software’s Orange Pi project has released an AI accelerator with a USB stick form factor equipped with Gyrfalcon Technology, Inc.’s Lightspeeur SPR2801S CNN accelerator chip. The Orange Pi AI Stick Lite is designed to accelerate AI inferencing using Caffe and PyTorch frameworks, with TensorFlow support coming soon. It’s optimized for use with Allwinner based Orange Pi SBCs, but the SDK appears to be adaptable to any Linux-driven x86 or Arm-based computer with a USB port.


Orange Pi AI Stick Lite

The Orange Pi AI Stick Lite is a relaunch of an almost identical Orange Pi AI Stick 2801 that was announced in Nov. 2018, according to a CNXSoft post. The previous model cost $69 and required purchasing GTI’s PLAI (People Learning Artificial Intelligence) model transformation tools for $149 to do anything more than run a demo. The new device is not only much cheaper at $19.90, but the PLAI training tools are now free. There’s no download button, however — you must contact the company to get the download link.

GTI’s up to 9.3 TOPS per Watt Lightspeeur SPR2801S is a lower-end sibling to the up to 24-TOPS/W Lightspeeur 2803S NPU, which is built into SolidRun’s i.MX 8M Mini SOM. The “best peak” performance of the 2801S is 5.6 TOPS @ 100MHz. It can also run in an “ultra low power” mode of 2.8 TOPS @ 300mW. GTI also offers a mid-range Lightspeeur 2802 model at up to 9.9 TOPS/W.


The 28nm fabricated, 7 x 7mm Lightspeeur SPR2801S has an SDIO 3.0 interface and eMMC 4.5 storage. It offers read bandwidth of 68MB/s and write bandwidth of 84.69 MB/s. The NPU includes a 2-dimensional Matrix Processing Engine (MPE) featuring an APiM (AI Processing in Memory) technology that uses magnetoresistive random access memory (MRAM) …..

sources: http://linuxgizmos.com/orange-pi-ai-stick-lite-taps-5-6-tops-gryfalcon-gpu/