Researchers at the Reconfigurable Robotics Laboratory in Switzerland are hard at work on a new army of robots that represent a cross breed between Origami and Insects.
Officially known as robogami, these light, flat and foldable bots were unveiled at the international conference on intelligent robots and systems. The robogami crawler is the latest innovation from Jamie Paik’s origami robot team. Modeled on an inchworm, origami and a flea it can crawl and jump up to seven times it’s height, and it doesn’t need to be reset between jumps.
The crawler’s flat pack structure lends itself well to being produced on a large scale and its parts can even be 3D printed. “Just like Ikea furniture, these robots could be shipped in flat layers that could then be easily assembled,” Paik said.
At just 2cm tall and weighing in at 4 grams, it’s miniscule dimensions required special engineering. The crawler is crafted from an intelligent shape memory alloy formed from nickel and titanium, it can remember it’s original shape even after it’s been manipulated and deformed.
The next stage in developing the robogami army comes by “fitting a wider range of sensors” says Paik, sensors like accelerometers that will allow the bots to climb over rough terrain and encourage them to interact with one another.
Origami has inspired robotic design since 2010. With researchers from MIT claiming to have met a pinnacle milestone earlier this year when they made their robot (a thin sheet of PVC and a magnet) move around land and water – driven entirely by magnetic fields. This bot is capable of picking up and delivering objects, carrying loads twice it’s weight and intuitive in following specific trajectories.
With commercial applications a bit of a mystery these bots are more an engineering marvel than anything else, showcasing the latest advancements in embedded systems engineering and material science and what can be achieved through the merging of the two.