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Tiny Origami Robot Can Fold Itself and Self-Destruct

by Keith Wagstaff /  / Updated 
Origami Robot
IEEE/YouTube

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Scientists at MIT might have created the most adorable robot ever. It folds itself up, scoots around, and can even self-destruct. One day, it could be doing all of that while performing medical tasks inside of the human body.

Made out of a magnet, PVC, and super-thin layers of polystyrene or paper, the robot folds origami-style when heated. It's then ready to oscillate its way around obstacles, across a human arm, or up a ramp like a tiny Evel Knievel.

Researchers from MIT's CSAIL lab even made the robot — which measures 1.7 centimeters across — swim and carry an object twice its weight. They presented their findings earlier this week at the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society’s ICRA conference in Seattle.

The key is the four electromagnetic coils placed under the robot that keep it moving at up to four centimeters per second. Once done with its task, it can dive into a pool of acetone and dissolve.

Related: MIT's Cheetah-Bot Makes Running Jumps With Lifelike Ease

Eventually, scientists hope to make a version with sensors that can navigate by itself and dissolve in other liquids. Until then, it will have to settle for putting your paper swan to shame.

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