This simple microbot can walk, swim, climb, and even overcome obstacles, all while carrying a load twice its weight.
The only components of these tiny robots are some self-folding sheets and a tiny neodymium magnet. Its amazing self-folding powers can be attributed to the sheet of polyvinyl chloride embedded within each of the several prototypes created by its inventors to find the optimal material. The commonly found plastic contracts when subjected to temperatures of about 150° F.
Hence when the flat sheets are exposed to heat they fold up, enabling the robot to "come to life." Once that happens the tiny magnet attached to the back takes over by connecting with external magnetic fields. The scientists control the microbot's movements by applying the magnetic fields in varying sequences.
These prototypes were made from liquid soluble materials. One whose outer layers comprised of polystyrene dissolved completely when dunked in an acetone solution. Another was water soluble. The robot's ability to "*self-destruct*" is of utmost importance. That's because the hypothetical use of the tiny bot is to heal humans by zapping cancer cells, cleaning clogged arteries, or sensing foreign materials.
In theory, robots even tinier than these would be injected inside the human body in their flat form and transported to the area requiring care via the blood stream. Once there, the microbots would come to life using a yet to be determined heat source, complete their mission, and then simply dissolve.
Shuhei Miyashita, a post-doctoral student involved in the robot's development notes that with the innovative design, "we complete the cycle from birth through life, activity, and the end of life." The scientists clearly have more work to do before the origami robot is ready for human use. However this is certainly a step in the right direction.
See more photos and details: http://gplus.ly/1KvZrHG
What other uses can you think of for this tiny robot?
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