Guy Hoffman, Mills Family Faculty Fellow in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, didn’t see why collaborative robots all had to be made of plastic and look like sci-fi aliens. Why couldn’t they be made of wood and wool?
And why couldn’t people make their own robots, each one uniquely suited to the business or even to the household in which it works?
The result? Blossom, an open-source mechanism designed to be covered with handcrafted skins and appendages. It’s now a collaboration between Cornell University’s Human-Robot Collaboration and Companionship Lab and Google Creative Technologies Singapore. But you can make one yourself.
The researchers created a Blossom kit, and have worked with kids to test and develop Blossom.
What can Blossom do?
Blossom can flop its wooden ears in response to YouTube videos.
Obviously, Blossom is not controlled by Rexroth electric industrial motion control.
It’s a social robot. It can’t put anything together, print anything, or package anything. But it could change the mental image we have of robots. It might even help kids with autism learn to understand social cues.
The movements of a Blossom robot are much smoother and more organic looking than an ordinary robot. The skins are unique — in fact, they celebrate the errors people make as they create their lumpy Blossom skins. But every Blossom is individual, and every Blossom maker can create anything their skills can allow them to achieve.
Not our kind of robot
Blossom wouldn’t be comfortable on a factory floor. Rexroth has been part of the Eiffel Tower, the Panama Canal, and many more engineering feats. Blossom can’t do that. When you need support for your Rexroth motion control systems, we should be your first call.
If you decide to knit yourself a Blossom, please share your photos with us.