A “flat-pack” robot can assemble itself before walking away. It works through a combination of origami and Shrinky Dinks.
The robot is the work of Harvard graduate student Samuel Felton, who says he spent just $100 on the project. It follows previous work by his course advisor Robert Wood on a robotic inchworm and a self-folding lamp.
The robot starts life as a flat sheet made up of layers of paper, circuit board and Shrinky Dink. The only human intervention needed is to connect two batteries to start the process. That produces electricity and in turn heat, which cause the Shrinky Dink to shrink once it passes 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The shrinking leads to the edges folding together and pulling the robot into shape before it switches on its motors and begins to walk.
Although this time Felton hand designed the flat sheet, he wants to work on smaller models. To help that process, he’s working on a computer program to automatically figure out the best combination of folds to create each “insect robot” with the smallest sheet possible.
[Via: New York Times]