Imagine cooking up Shrinky Dinks that walk away when you take them out of the oven

Self-folding robots

Harvard researchers are using the principles of origami - and the plastic sheeting used by Shrinky Dinks - to create robots that can unfold and scuttle away.

The team started with a flat sheet, to which it added two motors, two batteries, and a microcontroller, which acts like the robot’s brain, Felton said. The sheet was a composite of paper and Shrinky Dinks, also called polystyrene, and a flexible circuit board in the middle. It also included hinges that were programmed to fold at specific angles. Each hinge contained embedded circuits that produce heat on command from the microcontroller. The heat triggers the composite to fold itself in a series of steps.



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