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MIT Creates Real-Life Transformer Robots

The reconfigurable robots, made of metal rings and strips, can be folded into different shapes.

Emma Hutchings
Emma Hutchings on December 4, 2012.

MIT researchers have created a tiny reconfigurable robot made up of metal rings and strips that is “small, cheap, durable and strong.” It’s called a ‘milli-motein,’ as it has millimeter-sized components and a motorized design inspired by proteins, which are able to fold into complex shapes.

The chain robot features a strong electropermanent motor that can firmly hold its position even with the power switched off. A series of permanent magnets are paired with electromagnets and arranged in a circle, driving a steel ring around them.

The milli-motein is part of a family of devices being explored, ranging from protein-based “nanoassemblers” to a version with a human-sized chain. The researchers’ work could lead to robotic systems that are much cheaper to produce and can be dynamically reconfigured to do lots of different jobs instead of just a single repetitive function. Watch the video below to see the tiny robot and learn more:

MIT

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