A Piece of Paper That Folds Itself into a Robot
Imagine a group of flat sheets being sent into space, and then organizing themselves into a satellite. It really seems like some low-budget 1950's science fiction movie. Except for the fact that it'll actually be available. Eventually. As last week saw the world's first robot to fold itself and start working without human interaction.
A team at Harvard and MIT created the self-folding robot, inspired by the complex 3-D shapes constructable with origami which were recently published in the journal Science.
Sam Felton, a graduate student at Harvard University, says that the robot is made from composite paper, a bendable circuit board and uses the toy, Shrinky Dinks. When heated, the sheet shrinks into small, hard forms. These materials allow for the quick construction of cheap robots, but eventually, Felton said, better materials will help people build objects in places that are more difficult to reach.
The self-folding robot that they created is kind of modest, but the future applications for the technology are virtually endless. Imagine, if you will, a flat robot being sent into a collapsed building to assemble and perform its function?
It's almost dizzy-making to contemplate where technology is heading.