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Robots inspired by origami can fold selves, walk away

Published on Aug 8, 2014 2:16 AM
An undated handout photo courtesy of Seth Kroll, Wyss Institute, shows the self-folding crawling robot in three stages. Inspired by the traditional Japanese art form of Origami or "folding paper," researchers have developed a way to coax flat sheets of composite materials to self-fold into complex robots that crawl and turn. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - It starts out laying flat, like a sheet of paper. Then it springs up, almost lifelike, and folds into moveable parts much like origami art. And then it crawls away.

This new kind of robot could someday be used in space exploration, to slide into collapse sites to aid search and rescue, or to speed up manufacturing on assembly lines, experts said Thursday.

While this particular machine's march to the world market is still years away, the report in the journal Science said the latest advances open the way to a new frontier in personalised robotics.

Not only is the material cheap - it cost just US$100 (S$125) - it could be easily reprogrammed from one task to another, said Sam Felton, a researcher at Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

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