The Arduino-powered, shoe-tying robot uses a pair of motors to drive four gearboxes, two on each side of a dedicated shoe platform. One motor transfers power to the machine by driving a horizontal shaft with three spur gears on each side of the motor, while the second motor controls a sort of “clutch”, or idler gear. Using these components, the robot is able to move horizontally and vertically, as well as making rotational movements to manipulate the laces. A finished shoelace tying session lasts around four minutes.
Researchers from the University of California, Davis’ College of Engineering recently decided to build a robot that’s sole personality in life is to tie shoelaces.
The project was one handed to mechanical engineering students to see if they could carry out a complex task which is tying a shoe using only two motors and no more than $600 in funding.
“Imagine getting a project, doing a Google search and finding no leads,” Joel Humes, one of the students who worked on the project, told Digital Trends. She added that they checked YouTube, Instructables, random forums, ran patent searches, nothing at all came up. In a world full of information easily accessed through internet searches, it was hard to believe a fully automated shoe-tying machine appeared to be completely nonexistent.”
The machine was ultimately pitted against another robot created with the same objective by students from Meijo University in Japan and emerged the victor. “Currently, there are no plans to further develop this product because we do not have the proper funds to,” Stephanie Thai, another student engineer, told Digital Trend.
Other researchers who worked on the project included: Gabriela Gomes, Jacklyn Tran, and Andrew Choi.