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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.
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