Prototype Origami Robot Built
To see some of the constructions you can make with origami, it is almost unbelievable that they started off as simple sheets of paper. This ability to assemble complex structures from simple materials has been of interest to many, in part because of the re-configurability of the structures. Now researchers at MIT have succeeded in creating a prototype origami robot that will actually assemble itself upon batteries being attached.
The robot is comprised mostly of parts produced with a laser cuter, similar to the bakable robots MIT demonstrated a couple months ago. Instead of using the heat of a hot plate though, this robot's joints fold when heated by electrical leads. This is an important distinction as the built-in microprocessor can order the folding in a sequence, instead of having joint fold together, providing greater control over the structure. Once assembled though, the motor or motors (different designs have been tested) were able to power the legs and get the robot moving.
It is interesting to envision the possibilities for this technology as the robots are effectively printable, making them very inexpensive. What is more, we know that hollow-shell structures can be very strong, as they give insects their ability to carry objects many times their own weight.