How 3D Scanning Made a Swimming Robot Possible

3D-scanning-service-swiming-robot-02You probably know by now that 3D scanning is a robust, interesting technology that makes it possible to reverse engineer all sorts of items from small objects to aircraft! It’s essential now for updating blueprints and manufacturing spare parts. It’s used all the time to make repairs. But what you might not know is that recently, this tech was used to make a swimming robot.

Yes, you read that correctly. Though it might sound like something out of science fiction, the Tokyo University of Technology used 3D scanning to capture the physique of a swimmer then build a “Swumanoid” robot that can do the back stroke and freestyle!

It is thought this innovative robot will help scientists learn a lot more about the act of swimming than in the past. Plus, there is a really noble cause behind this endeavor: to make swimming safer. That is, the robot may eventually be used as a lifeguard to help swimmers in trouble in the ocean.

Heading this research project is professor Motomu Nakashima. Previous studies on 3D-scanning-service-swiming-robot-01swimming are never 100{ed34752d3d9237811f2899a265685e36705e4e86722207f201c96dd1cfc4a167} accurate because motion-sensing pads don’t work very well in the water and are hard to affix to swimmers securely. Plus, swimmers tire out naturally over time and they will not perform the same movements in the exact same way for hours on end. That’s where the Swumanoid comes in handy. It can allow researchers to measure how much force is required to propel someone through the water, for instance.

Let’s talk a little bit more now about the 3D scanning technology used to make all of this happen. Yes, a scanner was used to capture a human swimmer’s body in motion. Then a robot was created based on the comprehensive measurements taken. It consists of 20 motors, controlled by computers, that execute a perfect swimming motion. Oh, and they’re waterproof, too.

At the moment, the bot is legless, so it’ll need an update before it can take on the breast stroke. In the meantime, it’s rather proficient at the backstroke and front crawl, which is nothing to sneeze at. It’s pace is quite slow at the moment, only reaching a third of the top swimmer on record’s speed. But everyone, even robots, have to start somewhere, right?

It’ll be fun to keep an eye on this technological development. It’s just another of the myriad of ways 3D scanning is making a splash!

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