Mini Transformers in Real Life to Fly and Swim

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You must have an experience of folding a sheet of paper into shapes you want. But could you imagine that a sheet of paper folds itself automatically? A tiny origami robot can do this and has mobility.

Photo credit: Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL

A cube-like robot, Primer, rolls towards a sheet of plastic and onto it. The plastic sheet is designed as exoskeletons to form a desired shape. A boat-shaped exoskeleton allows Primer to sail. It even can transform into a glider-shaped exoskeleton that allows it to fly when falling from a table.

Primer is made of lead and can be controlled remotely to move by magnetic fields. When Primer is set on the flattened sheet, heat then is applied to make the exoskeleton to fold around the robot. It starts to fold step by step in a motion similar to origami.

The size of Primer is only a couple of centimeters. Although there are only a few of shapes that Primer can turn into, it is still a great blueprint for micro surgery. “In the future, we imagine robots like this could become mini surgeons, squished into a pill that you swallow,” says Daniela Rus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The robot will be able to obtain tissue samples or transport medicines in human body.

Multi-tasking origami robots can bring many advantages. They can adopt different exoskeletons for different purposes such as exploration and monitoring. “Imagine future applications for space exploration, where you could send a single robot with a stack of exoskeletons to Mars” says Shuguang Li, a member from the research team.

News Reference: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2148827-shape-shifting-origami-robot-swaps-bodies-to-roll-swim-or-walk/


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