The video demonstrates the robot's ability to self-build, as well as its movement.
A team of scientists from the Cambridge-MIT Institute has developed a robot that can assemble itself in a method that resembles the art of origami. The material used to construct this machine is comprised of the same polymer found in Shrinky Dink toys, which shrink when exposed to high temperatures.
The machine begins as a single sheet of the material- embedded with electronics and motors on its top side. It is cut in such a way that allows it to be folded into a pre-determined structure, and the whole process is prompted by an embedded computer. After around 4 minutes, the robot achieves its final form and it is able to walk around. The entire process requires no human interference whatsoever.
Daniela Rus, director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Cambridge-MIT Institute says that her team's efforts could make robots affordable and easier to manufacture. "Our big dream is to make the fabrication of robots fast and inexpensive," she says, thus helping to "democratize access to robots". The project cost $11,000 to fund, but since the designs have been finalized the estimated cost per unit would be $20 for the structure and $80 for the motor and batteries ($100 in total).
Despite the technology's inexpensive manner, the researchers are not planning on developing it for market. Rus explained that the goal of the study was to demonstrate just how feasible and cheap the concept was. Robert Wood, who studies biologically inspired robots at Harvard University, says the ability to assemble itself autonomously makes the robot particularly suitable for use in confined or hazardous spaces, such as during search-and-rescue missions in collapsed buildings.
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Video courtesy of New Scientist