Origami Robot Finally Self-Assembles, Walks On Its Own

Capping a five-year effort (Technovelgy readers have been following along!), Harvard engineers led by Robert Wood used Shrinky dinks™— to build the joints for a robot that assembles itself into a complex shape in four minutes flat, and crawls away on its own.


(Harvard's 'origami robot')

“Getting a robot to assemble itself autonomously and actually perform a function has been a milestone we’ve been chasing for many years,” said senior author Robert J. Wood, Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and a Core Faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard. The team included engineers and computer scientists from Harvard SEAS, the Wyss Institute, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“Here we created a full electromechanical system that was embedded into one flat sheet,” Felton said. The team used computer-design tools to inform the optimal design and fold pattern, and—after about 40 prototypes—Felton honed in on the one that could fold itself up and walk away. He fabricated the sheet using a solid ink printer, a laser machine, and his hands.

The refined design took only about two hours to assemble using a method that relies upon the power of origami, the ancient Japanese art whereby a single sheet of paper can be folded into complex structures. The origami-inspired approach enabled the team to avoid the traditional “nuts and bolts” approach to assembling complex machines.

Technovelgy readers may recall that I wrote an earlier story about this robot (see Self-Folding 'Origami Robot' Smart Sheet from 2010). See also the earlier story on InfoChemistry And Self-Folding Origami, from 2009.

Readers may be reminded of the Replicators of Stargate (seen in the video below).

And, of course, the Transformer's robots.

Via Harvard.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/12/2014)

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