Watch as this tiny origami robot builds itself, performs tasks then disintegrates

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Researchers from MIT recently unveiled a tiny, untethered robot that can both build and dismantle itself. The robot tips the scales at a third of a gram and measures just 1.7cm in length.

A small heat source is all that’s needed to get the robot – which starts life as a flat sheet – to begin erecting itself. Once complete, a tiny magnet inside the device combined with a set of electromagnetic coils strategically placed under its operating surface help the robot walk, swim and complete basic tasks like pushing or carrying objects to or from a specific location.

drone found self-destructing origami

When done, a quick dunk in a vat of acetone will dissolve it entirely, leaving just the magnet behind. I’m not entirely sure what sort of tasks the device would be best suited for but it’s pretty incredible nevertheless.

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All media via IEEE Spectrum

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G

Guest

Equip it with a wireless transmitter for sending videos and it could possible be used for covert ops
 
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G

Guest

So they are just moving a magnet around under the table to guide it? What's the big deal then?
 

VitalyT

Russ-Puss
A trained cockroach, what do you know, another Japanese invention inspired by home-grown wickedness:


 
G

Guest

They could possibly build a huge amount of these little robots(provided that they don't cost a hole lot; they don't look like they do) and have them attach themselves together to form a bigger mas and then all be assigned to do the same task at the same exact time.
 

Badvok

TS Evangelist
They could possibly build a huge amount of these little robots(provided that they don't cost a hole lot; they don't look like they do) and have them attach themselves together to form a bigger mas and then all be assigned to do the same task at the same exact time.
Sorry, but no, the 'little robot' is controlled by a set of electromagnets surrounding it and it would be impossible to use this system of control for more than a single robot.

It is actually hard to see how this actually can be called a robot given that all power and control is external and the moving part is constrained to a very limited area. However, the same applies to industrial robots so I guess the term is kind of appropriate even if misleading.