♫MUSIC♫ MILES O’BRIEN: The tasks may seem easy, but the engineering is hard. These robots can help style in the kitchen, plant vegetables, or even assemble furniture. These are some of the helpful bots Daniela Rus is developing in her lab at MIT. Now she’s rolling out a new line of robots, hot off the press of an inkjet printer. DANIELA RUS: My goal is to make robots more capable, more autonomous. In other words to bring machines into everyday life in such a way that our lives will be improved and enhanced by these machines. MILES O’BRIEN: With support from the National Science Foundation and its Expeditions and Computing Program, roboticist Rus and her team are developing printable bots designed to be inexpensive as well as useful. This one grabs objects and might one day help style=”1″ someone in a wheelchair or on crutches. DANIELA RUS: To reach for objects that they normally cannot reach. MILES O’BRIEN: The robot starts out as a sheet of plastic. DANIELA RUS: We add a copper sheet. And then we put this into an inkjet printer and we print on it the circuit that is required to control the device. MILES O’BRIEN: With the circuits imbedded into the plastic, a laser cuts out the shape of the robot’s body, then it’s folded into a 3D form. Call it origami for techies. No glue or tape or staples needed. MAN: You just fold it into shape and it works. MILES O’BRIEN: The final step style=”1″ is adding motors and sensors and presto, a robot is born. DANIELA RUS: So at the moment we add these components by hand. In the future, we imagine automating that process. MILES O’BRIEN: This one is called MIT Seg, after the Segue. It uses sensors to avoid obstacles. This printable flying robot is getting off the ground. DANIELA RUS: It’s like a four-rotor helicopter. MILES O’BRIEN: Rus sees the day printable bots are used as educational tools in schools. DANIELA RUS: Putting these tools in the hands of kids and then letting their imaginations run wild. MILES O’BRIEN: The team is also developing soft-bodied robots like this snake and even a fish. Also inexpensive and easy to make. So maybe one day when you need a helping hand, you might head to the corner shop style=”1″ and print up style=”1″ a quick bot to help style=”1″ you out. For Science Nation, I’m Miles O’Brien.