Researchers at MIT and Harvard's Wyss Institute and School of Engineering and Applied Science have created a crawling robot that is able to fold itself, which the analysts say demonstrates the potential for self-folding machines and independent assembly.
As CNET reports, there have been other origami robots made, but this is the first that can put itself together and move without the help of a human. These autonomous robots could soon be dropped into tunnels or other places where it's difficult to send a person, and assemble themselves.
It took 40 different prototypes to make this robot, which is created by using a flat sheet, two motors, two batteries, and a micro-controller. The sheet is made of paper and polystyrene, and has an embedded circuit board and hinges. Once the power is turned on, it takes 10 seconds for the circuits to start heating up, which makes the sheet start to fold. Just four minutes later, the sheet has cooled and is stiff, and the robot is able to walk at a top speed of 5 centimeters per second.
"The big dream is to make robots fast and inexpensive," Daniela Rus, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, told USA Today. "Today, it takes many years and lots of money to make a robot. We may be able to reduce design time to a matter of hours."