3D-Printed Robotic Boats to Revolutionize the Navy

3D-Printed Robotic Boats to Revolutionize the Navy

3D printing technology is often seen by experts and enthusiasts as the key to unlocking the doors between the make believe world and the real life. Scores of objects that are coming into the light of day as made possible by additive manufacturing are increasingly becoming more and more spectacular and astounding. The impressive nature of these 3D-printed things diminishes the gap between science fiction and the world outside of the screens or books.

The latest creations in robotics with the help of 3D printing technology are made right out of Hollywood blockbuster movies. Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Lisbon and University Institute of Lisbon brought to life robot boats. These boats may look like the ordinary cheap versions common in many toy stores across the globe, but these 3D-printed models are infinitely smarter by comparison. The creators of these robots refer to them as “self-teaching”. In fact, they have amazing “neural” functions that let them work as a swarm, as often seen in the way birds or fish do in nature.

3D-Printed Robotic Boats to Revolutionize the Navy

The Portuguese creators of these smart robots, designed these things to work as a group to achieve bigger and more important things. When they work hand in hand, the possibilities they can do with search and rescue, surveillance, and other naval operations are simply staggering. For a navy that is almost always working around very tight budget constraints, these creations can potentially multiply so many of their capabilities at only a fraction of the cost.

Serving as the “brains” in these 3D-printed robots are a combination of several technologies that are staples in society nowadays. Every single one of these smart robots uses Wi-Fi, GPS, a compass, and a Raspberry Pi 2. With all these technologies functioning together, the swarm of robots performs the way other groups of animals do in relation to one another. The incredible sophistication of these robots are derived from principles that are quite old and often considered as crude—the Darwinian principles. As the more “intelligent” robots are replicated and mutated, the result is a staggering fleet of “thinking” and floating robotic marvels.


One example is how a functional 3D-printed boat takes the place of a malfunctioning member. This kind of action has huge benefits for a system that is designed to work more as a unit, rather than as individuals. These robots also display the kind of coordination that is a marvel to look at. Because of the technologies used, it is very rare, if any, to see any two boats colliding or simultaneously moving towards one specific area.

3D-Printed Robotic Boats to Revolutionize the Navy

The navy is set to be revolutionized by this development as each 3D-printed smart boat costs only $330 apiece. It means that the navy can finally and literally launch more than a thousand ships without emptying their coffers. The smart boats can act on their own, but are simply way better when used together.

Dr. Anders Christensen and his team of researchers are not the only ones who are developing robot swarms. There are also a more than a couple of groups who are looking into the benefits of maximizing this technology to enhance so many aspects of the real world.


New to 3D Printing? Check out our 3D Printing basics section, find the answer on popular question what is 3d printing or what types of 3d printers exist, and learn about many other interesting things. Or visit all over the United States 3d printers catalog to find 3d printer price and general information from many manufacturers.  

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