We’ve seen the Transformers films and watched in awe as the massive robots changed shapes. They may soon be reality.
MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has designed a new shape-shifting robot that wears different origami exoskeletons, inspired by origami and butterflies. It doesn’t quite look like a Transformer, and is adorably small in size, but it could change how robots are envisioned.
As the video above shows, the cube-shaped robot dubbed Primer can put on various “outfits” made of origami-like flat sheets that fold into specific shapes and allow it to perform different tasks, like walking, rolling, sailing and gliding.
The exoskeletons are rectangular sheets made from a thermo-shrinking polymer film. When heated, they wrap themselves around the cube in a few minutes. The cube, meanwhile, is propelled by a controlled magnetic field and, like a Russian nesting doll, can wear several outfits at a time.
This new technology could lead to a whole new generation of compact, customised robots designed for a multitude of tasks.