You’ve heard of flat-pack furniture, but how about flat-pack robots?
A team of researchers from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is working on just such a concept. According to Quartz, it could presage future self-assembling bots that can squeeze into small spaces, or even self-assembling structures.
This prototype was inspired by Origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. It’s made of composite paper and Shrinky Dinks (really) and uses heat-activated self-folding hinges. Two motors and a pari of batteries help it move.
A microcontroller heats the hinges with an electrical signal, causing them to contract. After four minutes, the robot is able to move on its own. All of that comes pretty cheap–around $100 for the raw materials.
However, those materials are fragile, limiting the robot’s capabilities. However, it still serves as an interesting proof of concept.