MIT researchers have created an origami robot


The object measures about a centimeter and weighs a third of grass, however, it is able to swim, climb, cross rough terrain and load loads twice its own weight.

The MIT researchers presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, an origami robot, measuring about one centimeter, it is able to bend itself to perform the most diverse tasks.

This micromachine weighs one third of grass and is capable of swimming, climbing slopes, crossing rough terrain and carrying loads twice its weight. All this being just a plastic sheet that folds itself, the only component of the robot is a magnet that is fixed in its “back”. Its movements are controlled by external magnetic fields.

“The whole walking movement is embedded in the mechanics of the robot body”, explained Cynthia R. Sung, MIT trainer in electrical engineering and computer science, who belongs to the group that developed the robot.

The idea of this project came as a hypothetical way of injecting small machines into the human body, where they would navigate to a place of intervention, dissolving after completing the tasks that had been assigned to them. To this end, researchers have built their own prototype liquid-soluble materials.

“We completed the cycle from birth to the end of life”, said the project’s first author, Shuhei Miyashita. “The circle is closed”, he concluded.

In all prototypes, the sheets that folded alone had three layers, the middle layer always consisted of polyvinyl chloride, a plastic normally used in pipes and which shrinks when heated.

Once the robot bends, the friction between the robot’s “feet” and the base on which it moves, is enough so that the front feet remain fixed while the back feet rise. Applying magnetic fields allows the robot body to rotate slightly, which breaks the adhesion of the front feet and causes the robot to move forward.