The Department of Outstanding Origami is dying to get its hands on one of these tiny origami robots. A team of MIT scientists just unveiled their awesome Untethered Miniature Origami Robot at the 2015 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Seattle.
The itty-bitty robot is made of a sheet of heat-sensitive material and a tiny cubic neodymium magnet. When placed on a heating element it’s able to self-assemble, walk on different surfaces, climb, swim, burrow, and carry objects up to twice its own weight.
From the MIT research paper:
“The robot is controlled using an external magnetic field exerted by embedded coils underneath the robot. Equipped with just one permanent magnet, the robot features a lightweight body yet can perform many tasks reliably despite its simplicity. The minimal body materials enable the robot to completely dissolve in a liquid environment, a difficult challenge to accomplish if the robot had a more complex architecture. This study is the first to demonstrate that a functional robotic device can be created and operated from the material level, promising versatile applications including use in vivo.”
A miniature robot that can self-assemble, move about, and dissolve itself has great potential for medical applications inside the human body. Imagine an even tinier version with additional sensors that could be used to seek out and clean clogged arteries or treat cancer cells. Science is awesome.