The Golem Project

Automatic Design and Manufacture of Robotic Lifeforms
Hod Lipson and Jordan B. Pollack

Automated fabrication

Selected robots out of those with winning performance were then automatically replicated into reality. The manufacturing process uses comercial rapid-prototyping technology ("3D Printing"), which generates the entire structure layer by layer.

The bodies, which exist only as points and lines, were first converted into a solid model with ball-joints and accommodations for linear motors according to the evolved design. This solidifying stage was performed by a automatic program which combined pre-designed components describing a generic bar, ball joint, and actuator.

View VRML model of a fleshed robot


The virtual solid bodies were then materialized using commercial rapid prototyping technology. Plastic deposition 3D printing machines use a temperature-controlled head to extrude thermoplastic material layer by layer, so that the arbitrarily evolved morphology emerged as a solid three-dimensional structure without tooling or human intervention.

See some videos of 3D printing:
Cylinder (670K), Full Robot (23MB)


The entire pre-assembled machine was printed as a single unit, with fine plastic supports connecting between moving parts; these supports broke away at first motion.

See high-resolution image.


The resulting structures contained complex joints that would be difficult to design or manufacture using traditional methods.

See high-resolution image.


The evolved controller (neural net) is downloaded into a PIC microcontroller.

Standard stepper motors are then snapped in, and the evolved neural network is executed on a microcontroller to activate the motors.


After the robot performs, it can be melted and recycled into another form for the next task. To see a video of the meltdown process, click here [1.8MB].

In practice, we do not actually recycle the material so as not to damage the printer.

What we really want to do in the future, is reverse the melting...


Click here to see some results.

Check our webcam to see what the printer is printing now.

Copyright (c) 2000
Lipson & Pollack