Washington, Aug 08 ANI | 1 year ago

Researchers have recently created a printable origami-inspired robot prototype that can self-assemble and walk as soon as batteries are attached to it.

A team of researchers at MIT and Harvard University made a robot almost entirely from parts produced by a laser cutter, which folds itself up and crawls away as soon as batteries are attached to it.

Daniela Rus, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering, said that the exciting thing was that the device created has computation embedded in the flat, printed version and when these devices lift up from the ground into the third dimension, they do it in a thoughtful way.

Rus was joined on the paper by Erik Demaine, an MIT professor of computer science and engineering, and by three researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Sam Felton, Michael Tolley and Rob Wood.

The sharpest fold that the prototype system could execute was 150 degrees, but as Demaine explained, in origami, 180-degree folds are generally used to join panels together. With 150-degree folds, the panels won't quite touch, but that's probably tolerable for many applications.

The robot has been built from five layers of materials, all cut according to digital specifications by a laser cutter. The middle layer has copper, etched into an intricate network of electrical leads. It's sandwiched between two structural layers of paper; the outer layers are composed of a shape-memory polymer that folds when heated. After the laser-cut materials are layered together, a microprocessor and one or more small motors are attached to the top surface. In the prototype, that attachment was done manually, but it could instead be performed by a robotic "pick and place" system.

The report is published in the issue of Science.

(Posted on 08-08-2014)

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