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Transformers - for real! - David Wardell

It's early days but these shape-changing, origami inspired robots could herald a real 'transformation' in robotics. This is a great invention that literally can stand on its own two (or more) feet!

Scientists at Harvard University have taken the principles of origami, fused with flat-pack furniture thinking, and produced a razzle-dazzle prototype that transforms from a flat sheet to a walking robot in just four minutes. The robots are constructed from a stiff, paper like composite that is laser etched to create complex folding points. Inside the composite are embedded electric filaments that, when heated, cause the fold to deform in a predicatble manner.

Professor Robert Wood, of Harvard University, says: "Folding allows you to avoid the 'nuts and bolts' assembly approaches typically used for robots or other complex electromechanical devices and it allows you to integrate components such as electronics, sensors and actuators, while flat." He went on to say: "I believe there is a tremendous potential to use these methods to build machines for situations where you need deployability, such as in space exploration or in search and rescue missions in hazardous environments. I also believe you can use this method to make machines cheaper by cutting assembly costs and developing more rapid prototypes."

Early days - but great promise. We'll keep you posted!

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