‘CardBoardiZer’ allows users to create robotic models in minutes


05/09/2016 |

A new computerized system allows novice designers to convert static three-dimensional objects into moving robotic versions made out of materials including cardboard, wood and sheet metal.

“We are taking inanimate objects and making them come alive,” says Karthik Ramani, the Donald W. Feddersen Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University.

The new system is called CardBoardiZer and has evolved from previous work based in Ramani’s C Design Lab.

“We wanted to create a system that’s much easier to use than other design programs, which are too complicated for the average person to learn,” Ramani says. “People can pick up

Karthik Ramani (photo by Vincent Walter)

Karthik Ramani (photo by Vincent Walter)

CardBoardiZer in 10 minutes.”

For example, he said, an object like a plastic dinosaur with immovable parts can be scanned using a laser scanner and then turned into a folding cardboard version with moveable head, mouth, limbs and tail.

“Once I have the rough shape, this system can take over from there,” Ramani says.

The models can then be motorized using a commercial product called Ziro, which grew out of work in the Purdue lab. Ziro uses motorized “joint modules” equipped with wireless communicators and micro-controllers. The user controls the robotic creations with hand gestures while wearing a wireless “smart glove.”

– Emil Venere
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Above: This graphic depicts how a new system called CardBoardiZer allows novice designers to convert three-dimensional objects into moving robotic versions. (Purdue University image/Karthik Ramani)