When robots do origami, they sure take the paper craft to the next level. Watch as this miniature, multipurpose origami bot deftly self-assembles, scuttles, swims, pushes blocks, then self-destructs.
The mini-bot weighs a diminutive 0.31 grams, spans 1.7 cm squared, can be thermally activated to self-fold, and houses a cubic neodymium magnet. It's spurred into motion by remote magnetic controllers, and is capable of scuttle speeds of between three to four cm per second.
In a YouTube video from IEEE Spectrum, the bot demonstrates its numerous super powers. Placed on a heated sheet, it first self-constructs within a minute when temperatures hit 65 degrees, before scuttling away to explore its surroundings. Showing off its adept navigation skills, it looks a bit like an eager dog on an obstacles course at Crufts, as it weaves back and forth through two miniature poles. Next up, it pushes a cubic sweet into a designated area like a combine harvester, before sailing through water, and carting around an object twice its weight.
After climbing a slope, and digging through a stack of pink sweets, the final scene ends with the origami bot's demise. The researchers, using a pair of small tongs, plunge the robot into acetone, effectively dissolving it.
In a paper presented at the ICRA conference held in Seattle on Wednesday, researchers describe how their little bot could eventually be used within the medical sphere, and even deployed within the human body.
These "autonomous '4D printed' robots could be used in unreachable sites, including those encountered in both in vivo and biological treatments," they write.