These Robot-Aided Power Tools Correct Your Work When You Screw Up

They're also really good at not chopping your fingers off

August 29, 2016 9:00 am

Did you, like I, take woodshop in high school?

Was your teacher, like mine, a debatably knowledgeable (and quite possibly drunk) craftsman who liked to wax about the beauty of power tools while teaching you to make your mother a birdfeeder? If you did, you may well have been in one of the last such classes, as more and more schools around the country have eliminated wood- and metalshop classes in favor of college-prep-heavy curricula.

Fortunately, there’s a new alternative tailor made for our digital age: the Drill Sergeant.

PhD candidate Eldon Schoop and his partner Michelle Nguyen wanted to find a way to empower the next generation of makers, lack of woodshop class be damned. Their solution is a robotic tutoring program that gives users feedback on positioning and proper technique while operating a drill, miter saw or CNC router.

It’s pretty forgiving too: If you mess up a cut, the miter saw will automatically adjust measurements for the next cut so the pieces will still fit together. The drill warns you about drilling too deep and helps you match correct screw sizes for a job.

The CNC router, meanwhile, has a camera in its bit that allows users to save time setting up their projects as well as keep an accurate perspective on the cutting path.

It’s the next best thing to the hands-on lessons we took for granted in the old halcyon days. For now it remains student work, but the team are working to get their gear retail-ready.

We’ll keep you in the loop.

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