CAD Design and Robotics: A Great Combination

Written By: Helga Stroehle
  • 2/22/2016

The world of robotics is rapidly evolving, and many scientists believe artificial intelligence (AI) will soon exceed human intelligence, with robots being intelligent enough to program themselves. In the words of Stephen Hawking, AI is “likely to be either the best or worst thing ever to happen to humanity,” but in either case, it will have a tremendous impact globally. Even today, robotics has become a highly advanced industry, with robots being programmed to facilitate a range of tasks for the benefit, or sheer amusement, of humans.


Robots are being programmed to perform a variety of complex tasks.

Robot Farms

No, it’s not the title of the next big Sci-Fi film. Robot-managed farms are actually a new idea currently being implemented in Japan. Due to the aging populations in Japan, they’ve been experiencing a labor shortage that they’re hoping to fill with robots. The robots will be assigned to the majority of daily agricultural tasks, including planting, watering, and harvesting the plants. By implementing robots, agricultural companies will not only save money on labor, but they will drastically increase their output. In fact, they anticipate their production increasing from 21,000 to 50,000 heads of lettuce per day.

Imitating Nature

There is no design more intelligent than nature, which has led many scientists to turn to their surroundings in search of inspiration. Assistant Professor Soon-Jo Chung, from the University of Illinois Aerospace and Engineering Department, is studying the flight patterns of birds in hopes of applying that to the construction of aircrafts. Though, studying birds is only half the battle. When it came to designing the prototype, Chung and his team utilized CAD design to model and simulate their creation.

With the ability to design, program, and simulate the robot all from a single software, Chung’s team had more control and precision in the design process. The simulation functionality enables users to test various functions of their design to determine how it would perform in real life, thus allowing them to tweak the model as needed. This was paramount to designing the robotic bird, as it enabled them to test the flight performance prior to assembling the robot.


With CAD modeling, engineers can accurately simulate flight performance.

Boston Engineering has also taken tips from nature while designing their BIOSwimmer, a robotic fish that closely mimics the movements of a tuna. It’s intended to assist with homeland security by inspecting ships and assisting with a variety of marine maintenance operations. To design the robotic tuna, the team began by examining an actual tuna fish using a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) laser scanner. This gave them the initial CAD design to work with. By uploading their design into a 3D CAD software, they were able to experiment with a variety of parts and materials, while simulating the performance of each, to determine the most ideal construction of the robot.

Robotics is proving to be an innovative and highly useful industry, with the potential to assist in food production, homeland security, and a variety of other essential tasks. To assist with the process of robotic modeling, many engineers turn to CAD software. With CAD design, they have the ability to experiment with a variety of parts and materials, while simulating the performance of each, so they can hone in on each detail of the design and create more advanced robots. Download our e-book, 7 Reasons to Design with PTC Creo, to learn more about robotics and CAD design.


  • CAD
  • Retail and Consumer Products
  • Connected Devices

About the Author

Helga Stroehle