Undoubtedly, robots are typically very complicated devices. It takes quite a long time for anyone to assemble a robot. But lately, two scientists from the Harvard University in the US, have invented such a robot that can assemble and fold itself and then walk away.
Microrobotics engineers Sam Felton and Robert Wood have developed this robot. The ‘transformer’-like ability of this robot is based on origami paper folding techniques. Its parts are all flat, but they’re not made from paper; rather they’re made from a special type of material called ‘shape memory plastic.’ The plastic is heated thanks to an overlay of copper circuits that run along the robot’s hinges. See how the robot is prepared in the video below.
The circuits are attached to two microcircuits on either side of the robot that each have motor and a battery unit installed for power. However, the plastic contracts like a muscle when heated along hinges that act like paper folds to form rigid limb-like structures. As a result, the robot folds itself into a four-legged creature and then uses its own energy supply to walk away. The folding process is trigged by a timer built into the robot – it starts automatically folding itself exactly 10 seconds after its batteries have been fitted. See the GIF image below.
Note that, the robot takes around four minutes to assemble from flat to fully functional, and walks at a speed of around 5 centimeters per second. See the robot assembling and folding itself and then walking away in the video below.
According to scientists, such robot is perfect for seeking out survivors in the aftermath of an earthquake or exploring the depths of previously inaccessible caverns. The scientists have published details of their new technology in the journal Science Magazine.