Every day, FATHOM collaborates with extraordinarily creative customers to prototype and fabricate innovative new products. The team is often bound by strict confidentiality agreements to keep client projects under wraps, rendering us unable to share even the coolest projects. Every once in a while, though, we receive permission to divulge the details of a particular customer’s work with FATHOM.
This week, we were lucky enough to speak with Parminder Devsi, CEO and Founder of Robodub, a company that is gamifying robots and drones to change the field for interactive entertainment. In this featured Q&A, learn more about Robodub and how the team used 3D printing from FATHOM.
Technologies such as the Oculus Rift, Nintendo Wii, and XBOX Kinect have made video games increasingly immersive in the digital space — how does Robodub integrate both virtual and physical environments to create a cohesive experience?
Devsi: Robodub is a game experienced by two players using PS4 or Xbox controllers to maneuver real robots, combining the physical devices with a video game-like experience. A video camera is mounted on each robot—affectionately called a Rambot—and displays a live feed on a monitor in front of each player. The resulting FPV (first person view) immerses players in a video game where all the enemy targets and motor sounds are real, creating a more engaging and lively game experience.
In the future, we plan to add augmented reality devices such as the Microsoft Hololens. Imagine seeing virtual zombies being taken down by lasers coming from real physical robots—the boundaries between virtual reality and physical reality would blur even further for an increasingly captivating experience.
Ever since the 2013 premier of the Amazon Prime Air commercial depicting drone delivery service, drones have been a hot topic — what inspired you to “gamify” drones?
Devsi: I’ve been interested in cars and helicopters since childhood, and I’ve always wanted to free the video game characters trapped in 2D screens. I’ve imagined what it would be like if my favorite characters existed in the physical world so I could interact with them in person. Robodub embodies the combination of these interests by gamifying robots and drones. I envision Robodub versions of Terminator or Star Wars being built using our robots—that would be awesome! I am also passionate about motivating kids to learn science and math in fun ways. If Robodub inspires even one kid to create something innovative and useful, I would consider Robodub a success.
Remote control cars have been favorites in the toy industry for decades — how do Robodub’s drones and robots take this concept to the next level?
Devsi: To put it simply, Rambot is not an RC car and it is not a toy. It is a computer on wheels—specifically, an Intel computer on wheels. It is an IoT device which communicates with a game server to keep track of each player’s score and perform a number of fun activities, such as taking a picture of you and posting it on Facebook, or livestreaming a game being played in real time so your friends can watch online from anywhere in the world.
Soon, we plan to add machine-learning algorithms, which would make each Rambot an autonomous vehicle. Rambots can even talk to each other and say things like, “Dude, I think you are running low on battery! You need to go to the charging station.” The game presently features a land-based army vs. army setup, but we envision expanding with an air force component, and maybe even submarines!
Companies often utilize 3D printing to enhance and accelerate the product development process, but many 3D printing materials are strong enough to serve as end-use parts — how did Robodub incorporate 3D printing into the product design?
Devsi: Going to FATHOM for the Rambot body was a no-brainer as 3D printing allowed us to see final shape of our product quickly. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that ABS and other FDM materials are extremely strong and can take a beating. Head-on collisions between robots are especially common in our game, and so far, no vehicle has taken permanent damage! If a 3D design is cleverly developed, the results can be inexpensive, fast, and strong. We 3D printed smaller accessory pieces separately, and the biggest piece was done in one shot.
Traditional manufacturing methods such as injection molding are typically most cost-efficient for high-volume production — what were the driving factors behind your decision to use 3D printing for the Robodub cars?
Devsi: The ability to save time and execute rapid iterations motivated us to turn to 3D printing when creating the Rambot bodies. We only needed four bodies, but we needed them quickly for our demo at Maker Faire 2015 in Silicon Valley. 3D printing services through FATHOM allowed us to implement an edgy appearance by adding raised panels to the body, helping us create futuristic, military-like robots within a week.
Looking to print some models of your own? Upload your file to our online quoting and ordering system for 3D printing services from FATHOM: SmartQuote offers PolyJet, FDM, and SLS technologies—just click to print!
Image Credit—Thank You: Robodub.com