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Robot Self-Assembles And Walks

by Michael Keller

Roboticists have developed a flat machine that can fold itself into an operational form and take a walk. 

Built mostly from paper and polystyrene plastic that shrinks into a memorized shape when heated, the robot can assemble in around four minutes. It can crawl at roughly 2 inches per second and make turns. The work by Harvard and MIT engineers represents the first time that a robot has self-assembled and performed a function without humans needing to intervene.  

“Here we created a full electromechanical system that was embedded into one flat sheet,” said Harvard Microrobotics Lab researcher and doctoral student Sam Felton. “Imagine a ream of dozens of robotic satellites sandwiched together so that they could be sent up to space and then assemble themselves remotely once they get there–they could take images, collect data and more.”

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Silicon Origami Folds From Flat To 3-D With A Drop Of Water

Scientists in the Netherlands have created flat shapes that open and close with a droplet of water into tiny cubes, pyramids and other three-dimensional structures.

With more research, the self-assembling, silicon-based shapes could lead to microscopic packages of drugs that release their therapeutic cargo directly where it is needed. The 3-D structures, about the size of a sand grain, could also open and close at specific locations, allowing for noninvasive microbiopsies from deep within the body.

"Possible shapes are in principle limitless as long as they can first be made on a flat surface," said University of Twente graduate student Antoine Legrain.

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Origami Makes 50-Cent Paper Microscope That Magnifies 2,000 Times

Stanford University bioengineer Manu Prakash has developed a microscope made of paper that costs 50 cents to make. Using the magic of origami, the Foldscope device can focus through a sample mounted on a standard slide in micron-length steps. It can magnify objects 2,000 times with sub-micron resolution without needing any external power.

The instrument is part of Frugal Science for Public Health, an effort by Prakash’s team to democratize science. Healthcare workers can use it to diagnose infectious diseases like malaria and those caused by pathogenic bacteria, and it can also be used as a teaching aid.

See the ted talk below from which these gifs are made.

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by Txchnologist Staff

The beauty of math, origami and emergent complexity. Robert J. Lang talks about the art and science of folding things for pleasure and business (whether your business is making space telescopes or heart stents).

Top Image: Courtesy Flickr user origami joel.

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