menu

MIT Develops Robots That Self-Assemble When Heated Up

MIT Develops Robots That Self-Assemble When Heated Up
technology

Researchers have demonstrated the potential of printable components that automatically fold into 3D shapes.

Emma Hutchings
  • 4 june 2014

A team of researchers at MIT has developed some printable robotic components that fold into a specific 3D shape when they are ‘baked’ under heat. The group, led by Professor Daniela Rus, has introduced the “bakeable robots” in the hope that they lead to a variety of self-assembling designs that function on their own and fold together like origami.

Rus’ research team demonstrate the potential of these robotic components in two new papers. One details a system that takes a digital specification of a 3D shape and produces a 2D pattern which would enable a piece of plastic to create the shape by self-folding. The second paper presents designs that show how to build electrical components (such as resistors, inductors, capacitors, sensors and actuators) with self-folding laser-cut materials.

Rus hopes that these folded electronics will evolve into something of a “hardware compiler”, where different working devices can be generated for performing a variety of tasks such as cleaning the floor.

mit-folding-robotic-parts.jpg

The MIT research team developed a technique for precisely controlling the angles at which a heated sheet folds. For example, a PVC sheet sandwiched between two films of rigid polyester featuring slits of different sizes contracts when it is heated, causing the slits to close. The PVC becomes deformed, creating different angles where the edges of the polyester films press against each other.

Producing the pattern of slits is quite a difficult process as every edge in the system moves at the same time, so it requires designing the edges in such a way that the right geometric structure is ultimately created.

These printable, folding designs could perform a variety of functions, both around the home and in different industries. You can check out some of the automatically folding robotic components in the video below.

MIT News Office

technology
Trending

Volvo's Self-Driving Trucks Will Soon Be Put To Work In An Underground Mine

Automotive
Automotive Today

Toyota Is Using Sewage To Power Its New Electric Car

A new hydrogen-fueled vehicle is driven by what we flush away

Culture Today

Catch A Concert On This Small Floating Island

A man-made archipelago in Italy is hosting music and art performances

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Design & Architecture Today

DIY Kit Lets You Build Your Own Wooden Bike, Boat Or Caravan

Woodenwidget says its detailed guides are suitable for beginners and experienced woodworkers alike

Related Expert

Ethan McCarty

Tech Comm Disruptor

Design Today

Crash-Friendly Drone Made From LEGOs Is Completely Rebuildable

The clever device offers games, education and the uniquely rewarding experience of destroying your high-flying airship

Fitness / Sport Today

Free Sneakers Given Out To Motivated Marathon Runners

Strava will give the shoes to athletes who run the second half of their race faster than the first

Culture Today

Someone Invented A Robot Just To Serve Trays Of Beef Jerky

Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz, in partnership with Chef's Cut Real Jerky, creates an automated snack delivery system

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed september 27, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs Today

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Millennials Today

Why A Social Networking Site Decided To Rebrand

Meetup, a platform that connects like-minded individuals, has taken steps to stay relevant amongst millennials

Work Today

Editorial Roundtable: The People-First Workplace Should Borrow From Tradition

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX underline the old-fashioned ideas that deserve a place in the Future of Work

Op-Ed Today

Digital Design Expert: Mobile First Is Dead, Think Mobile Native

Brian Cooper, chief creative officer of OLIVER Group UK, explains how some brands are still playing catch-up to new technology

Fashion Today

Handbags Crafted From An Old NFL Stadium

People for Urban Progress is an up-cycling program that tackles the waste problem of big demolitions

Work Today

Tech Job Site Created Just For Those Who Are Older Than 30

A new occupational job board presents a creative solution to age discrimination in the tech world

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Europe Today

Architect Turns A Giant Smile Into A Public Exhibition

The structure offers visitors a new perspective of London and creates an immersive environment that integrates structure, surface, space and light

Children Today

Norwegian Kids Are Using Their Phones To Log Unsafe Street Conditions

Travel Agent is an app that gamifies the reporting of hazardous conditions to improve the safety of children's commute to school

Travel Today

Google Wants To Help You Plan Your Next Trip

A new app curates vacation itineraries and organizes reservation emails to take the work out of planning a getaway

No search results found.