Origami outfits help these bots change tasks swiftly | Science News

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Origami outfits help these bots change tasks swiftly

Remote-controlled tiny cubes shift shapes when heated

2:00pm, September 27, 2017
oragami robots

MACHINE METAMORPHOSIS  This small robot puts on different origami exoskeletons (from top left, clockwise) so it can walk, glide, roll or sail. 

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Robots are taking “dress for success” to a whole other level.

A new type of shape-shifting robot can undergo complete metamorphosis in a matter of minutes. The bot is composed of a simple metal cube that wraps itself in various high-tech origami sheets that fold into wings, wheels and other appendages for getting around. By donning and doffing different origami exoskeletons, the metal core can quickly switch from a walking to rolling to sailing bot and back again. 

“It’s almost like putting clothes on the robot to give it different kinds of powers,” says study coauthor Daniela Rus, a roboticist at MIT. Such quickly customizable machines, described online September 27 in Science Robotics, could be useful for everything from surgery to space travel.

At the heart of each tiny transformer is a magnetic

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