Researchers at MIT have created origami-like cut outs that fold into shapes like robots when put under high heat. The team has been able to make a bunny, a house, a human figure and an egg out of these flat sheets. This high-tech origami is just the start of what could potentially become large scale robots made to order.
Lead researcher, Daniela Rus, states: ”What we would like is to provide design tools that allow people who are not experts to create their own machines. My own dream is to make it easy and inexpensive to create robots.”
The process involves a large flat sheet of plastic, which is placed between layers of paper or a plastic film called Mylar. Creases are either laser-cut or printed into the sheet. The computer is then fed the calculations and information via a computer programme that correspond to the shape that the team wants to create.
After this process, the sheet goes into an oven that is preheated between 55 and 120 degrees Celsius. The middle layer of plastics begins to fold at the angle the crease has predetermined. The beginning process is quite a long one but the folding takes minutes. Within ten minutes, the final product is ready.
At the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Hong Kong, the team of researchers will present their ideas. They will also share their thoughts on how to create self-folding components like sensors, resistors and actuators that are at the heart of bringing robots and other machines to life.
Their hope is to develop these self-folding robots so that they can “add the brains to the body,”says Rus. What an exciting concept!
[Image via nbcnews]