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Origami Robots Now Come With Their Own Tiny Exoskeletons

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You’ve probably seen origami “robots” before: flat sheets of metal or plastic that fold into bots that can walk, climb, and even swim.

They’re not of much practical use right now, but they represent a promising path for robot development.

Now, in a bid to augment the bots’ abilities, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have come up with a new tool for them: origami exoskeletons.




In a paper published today, researchers describe four exoskeletons, each made out of a plastic sheet that folds into a predefined shape when heated for a few seconds.

There’s a boat-shaped exoskeleton and a glider: one for “walking,” and another that folds up into a crude wheel for faster movement.

Each exoskeleton can be donned in turn by a tiny lead bot called Primer. This isn’t a robot as we usually think of them, but a small magnetic cube that can be controlled remotely using magnetic fields.

In the future, the researchers imagine this sort of approach to robot design could help up make multifunctional bots that can perform complex tasks remotely.

They could be used for deep-sea mining operations, for example, or for building colonies in space.

These are locations where you don’t want to waste resources shipping out lots of different bots for different jobs, so it’s more efficient to send one with a set of origami tools.

As Rus says: “Why update a whole robot when you can just update one part of it?

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Pass it on: New Scientist

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