Awwww how cute!!! Who doesn’t like japanese origami animals……..but an origami robot?, One that self assembles? Sounds too good to be true. Though it is still in its experimental stage, the prototype has been revealed by researchers from Harvard University and MIT.
Sounds like a scene out of a science fiction movie, but this tiny origami project is able to transform itself from a flat structure into a moving, functional machine in about four minutes before it begins to crawl away on its own at a speed of about 2 inches/second. It is built on an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of heat sensitive polystyrene material. The sheet is covered with a pattern of creases and cuts which bend into shape when and on-board heater is used to apply heat to specific areas. As the heat spreads, a robot’s body, frame, and legs form on their own. Once the polystyrene cools down into its new shape, the robot then lifts itself up, powers up and moves away. How do they do this? The key lies in the material that the robots themselves are mode of. That’s a 2-dimensional surface of many layers, including paper, flexible circuits, and stretched polystyrene. This prototype only costs $100 to make.
Our question is: Do Harvard and MIT researchers have too much time on their hands? Why design and create something like this? Learning the answers to these questions have left us in awe of science and technology. The team of researchers discussed the potential applications for this origami robot. For one, it could be used for space applications where the robots could be stored easily in their flat shape, deployed into orbit or to other planets, begin to assemble and then go about the tasks they need to complete. Inspired by origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, engineers have also started to design cardiac stents that prop up arteries. In order to perfect this technique, the Harvard origami engineers first made a self-folding lamp, a self-folding robotic inchworm, and a traditional Japanese bird. Unlike the robot, all the rest needed assistance to assemble properly. What a breakthrough for science. It certainly will be interesting to see how these ‘real-life transformers’ develop and shape the face of the future.