Origami Mini-drone Folds, Walks, Swims and Dissolves.

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At ICRA 2015, MIT researchers demonstrated an origami robot which self-folds, walks, swims and dissolves.

From a flat sheet with centered magnet, it folds into action completing its final form in a matter of seconds, ready to take on land or sea. After pushing its forms to the limit one can simply dissolve its shell and start all over again.

The unfolded robot is made of a magnet and PVC enclosed by a structural layer, it weighs 0.31 g and measures 1.7 cm on its side. When placed on a heated surface, the PVC contracts creating folds where the structural layer’s been cut. Goes from flat to folded in under a minute giving you the ability to cruise at a comfortable 3-4 cm/s.

There’s one minor issue, the motor can’t fold or dissolve. The motor a two part magnetic driven system uses a cubic neodymium magnet which the shell encloses and four electromagnetic coils underneath the surface providing magnetic fields for motion. The field turns on and off at 15 Hz causing the robot’s magnet to oscillate back and forth, this combined with its asymmetric design and off-center balance point causes the robot to walk. Its folded design also aids in floating giving you a water st-riders control. Upon completion of tasks submerging the bot in acetone dissolves its outer shell readying it for a new design.

Stages of configuration: (a) Outlook of the system. (b) The crease pattern. (c) Walking mode by torque-based control. (d) Swimming mode by force-based control.

“Image courtesy of ieee.org .”


Electromagnetic Coil System:

“Image courtesy of ieee.org .”

Here’s a video of it in action:

This really gives a glimpse of the future, medical, military and energy applications are endless plus we’re one step closer to the Jetsons flying car, the folded briefcase. If you think this one’s amazing let us know in the comments section.

“Thank you ieee.org for providing us with this information.”