Origami Robots Fold Themselves And Walk Away
MIT and Harvard have shown off a new prototype that comes with parts that are stamped and they can simply fold themselves into shape and the robot can march off.
One may very well call it a merger of robotics and origami; a little amount of electricity has to be run through the flexible circuit that has been sandwiched between dual layers of paper and shape-memory polymer. This results into the folding of the part and transformation that makes it convert to its working form. Owing to the fact that there’s a microprocessor on board, the robot is capable of controlling the order in which folding/unfolding of these pieces takes place. This allows for the robot to assemble quite gracefully.
As compared to the one shown off by MIT recently, this one relies on electricity instead of heat. All you need to do is to press a simple button and magic happens. Whereas, for the MIT one you need to heat the assembly.
According to the research team this innovation will soon find its way into harsh environments such as space and battlefields. The idea is to have robots assembling without human inputs for various purposes.
As befits a robot that relies on the principles of origami, it’s made of paper, layered with a circuit board and “a contractile layer of prestretched polystyrene,” as the paper describes. It’s the same prestretched polystyrene that make up Shrinky Dinks, those colorful sheets children color and cut into shapes, then pop into the oven so they shrink and harden. Cleverly, the Shrinky Dink material in this case was used to make the folds—when the joints are heated by internal heating elements, the prestretched polystyrene contracts, causing the joint to buckle into the desired angle fold.