Siemens Is Building a Swarm of Robot Spiders to 3-D Print Objects Together

3-D printing is still in its infancy, but it’s starting to show signs that it might revolutionize the way we manufacture products. That said, current technology won’t allow us to make anything larger than the printing machines themselves. Some smart people have suggested that we should look to nature to see how it builds things—specifically, spiders, and the way they can swarm together to build massive nests for themselves.

Siemens, the German engineering and telecommunications company, has taken this concept to heart. A team of researchers at its Princeton, New Jersey, laboratory are creating autonomous spider-like robots that can work together to 3-D-print structures on command.

While Siemens isn’t known for its robotics research, Livio Dalloro, the head of the company’s “Product Design, Simulation & Modeling Research” group in Princeton, said in an interview that the company views the bots as a “moonshot.” It hopes to entice researchers from across its hundreds of global offices to develop applications for the robots and create new products.

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