News / Science & Technology

'Origami Robot' Folds Itself to Life

'Origami Robot' Folds Itself to Lifei
X
August 08, 2014 12:45 PM
Scientists at Harvard University are taking the art of paper folding to a new dimension, with origami-inspired designs that robots can follow to assemble themselves. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
[mayoung] Robot Self Assembly Web_Central News 16x9 WGhost impo
Rosanne Skirble

Origami can turn a flat sheet of paper into complex 3-D shapes like birds and flowers and frogs. Scientists at Harvard University's Microrobotics Lab are taking the art of paper folding to a new dimension with origami inspired designs that robots can follow to assemble themselves.

Graduate student Sam Felton's latest project is a six-legged creature with a body about 18 cm wide and 15 cm long that looks like a tiny crab. He explains that the goal was to make robots as quickly and cheaply as possible.

"And so we looked to origami in order to find ways to create a very complex and functional machine. Mathematically, origami can create almost anything you want. But the trick is to actually get it to happen in real life with real materials.”  

To make that happen, Felton starts with shape memory polymers. These are flat plastic sheets that change shape in response to heat.They combine that with other materials, including paper, which provides extra stiffness and stability as the process unfolds.

Electronics embedded between the layers are programmed to kick the folding action into gear, triggered by an on-board battery.  

Felton explained, “we supplied these with current, much like you would supply a light bulb with current, and that heats up that local area to above 100 degrees Celsius. Once it hits 100 degrees Celsius, the shape memory polymers shrink and that pulls on the paper causing it to fold over.”  

The operation starts within ten seconds

“And as soon as that brain is told to start running, it goes through the process of telling each circuit to turn on or off and once it knows it’s assembled, it tells the robot to walk forward.”

The whole process takes four minutes.

This is the first time that the robot is doing everything on its own, Felton says.

“What we’ve shown here is that you can embed all these systems onto an autonomous robot and cause it to control its own folding. In previous examples there has always been an operator behind to flip the switch to supply the electricity.  In this case it’s flipping its own switch.”  

Writing in the journal Science, Felton says the process allows researchers to quickly produce complex robots that are scalable to different sizes and strong for their weight.  The ability to be shipped flat in large quantities makes them especially valuable.

Felton sees applications for the self-assembling robots in confined spaces, such as collapsed building, where they could be used in search and rescue missions. He also sees possibilities in outer space.

“I like to think about assembling in space. If you could send a ream of flat sheets up, that then turn themselves into satellites or even send that ream to another planet and have it turn itself into a new base.”

Here's a video showing the robot at work:

 

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: riano baggy from: ina
August 17, 2014 4:38 AM
so cool, we product mass robot like automobile used line system, it is easy because use mirror system. Maybe used nano materials for fold any degrees. But it is problem when not symmetry shapes.
It is easy to carry materials, like experiment robot in spacecraft
because not used big room and will build itself when arrive another planets.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
August 12, 2014 7:57 PM
How cool!


by: Anonymous
August 08, 2014 3:35 PM
What a time to be ALIVE!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid