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Small, origami-inspired pop-up robots function autonomously
Date:8/7/2014

This release is available in Japanese.

Inspired by the traditional Japanese art form of Origami or "folding paper," researchers have developed a way to coax flat sheets of composite materials to self-fold into complex robots that crawl and turn.

"We demonstrated this process by building a robot that folds itself and walks away without human assistance," said Sam Felton, a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the lead author of a new report in the 8 August issue of the journal Science .

In the experiment, the researchers' robot self-assembled from flat sheets of paper and shape memory polymers (which change shape when heated above 100˚ Celsius) into which they had embedded electronics. The flat composite transformed into a dynamic, functional machine in about four minutes. It then crawled away at a speed of about 5.4 centimeters or over 2 inches, per second, and it also turnedall without human help. No previous self-folding approach has yielded a machine that can function without additional outside assistance.

This new approach, which is both efficient and versatile, allows researchers to quickly produce complex robots that are scalable to different sizes and are also very strong for their weight, the new study reports.

For the last decade, the team that worked on this approach has been looking at ways to increase the complexity of robotic devices. They started by building folding-based devices at very small scales. Despite inherent design challenges ( i.e., the skills required to fold such complex geometries), they realized the value of continuing, and creating robots at bigger, more traditional robot scales.

"Folding allows you to avoid the 'nuts and bolts' assembly approaches typically used fo
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Contact: Natasha D. Pinol
npinol@aaas.org
202-326-6440
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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