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

By
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.

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