A research team at Harvard and MIT announced today that they’ve created a self-assembling robot. The machine, which begins as a flat sheet of material, exploits principles of origami to fold itself into a 3-D robot capable of walking without any human assistance.
"We have achieved a long-standing personal goal to design a machine that can assemble itself," Daniela Rus, an MIT roboticist and one of the study’s authors, said in a press conference about the robot.
The robot is made out of a flat multi-layered sheet of material outfitted with circuitry and motors. In this sheet, the researchers made slices (called hinges) along which folding will occur. The self-assembly works as follows: After the sheet is hooked up to a battery, heating elements embedded in the material activate. This temperature change prompts certain layers to contract. Guided by the hinges, the contraction causes the flat sheet to fold into a predetermined 3-D structure—in this case a walking robot. In all, the assembly process takes around four minutes.
Origami Robot Can Self-Assemble and Walk Without Human Help