Miniature origami robot self-folds, walks, swims, blows our minds

"An Untethered Miniature Origami Robot that Self-folds, Walks, Swims, and Degrades," by Shuhei Miyashita, Steven Guitron, Marvin Ludersdorfer, Cynthia R. Sung, and Daniela Rus from MIT and TU Munich, recently presented at ICRA 2015 in Seattle.

That’s the title of their paper, in fact, and they delivered on all of those promises: from a flat sheet with a magnet on it, their robot folds itself up in just a few seconds, is immediately ready to zip around on land or water driven by magnetic fields, and then when you’ve run out of things to do with it, drive it into a tank of acetone and it’ll dissolve. This is the first time that a robot has been able to demonstrate a complete life cycle like this, and eventually, it’ll be doing it inside your body.

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More about the project here.

The origami robot and the actuation methods. (a) Outlook of the system. (b) The crease pattern. (c) Walking mode by torque-based control. (d) Swimming mode by force-based control.


The origami robot and the actuation methods. (a) Outlook of the system. (b) The crease pattern. (c) Walking mode by torque-based control. (d) Swimming mode by force-based control.

The electromagnetic coil system that drives the robot.


The electromagnetic coil system that drives the robot.

Photos: MIT