An innovative team of scientists has developed robots inspired by the ancient Japanese art of paper folding. These origami robots are lightweight, cost-effective, and can perform dynamic movements due to the geometry of their folds. Origami robots can be used in various industries, from manufacturing and medicine to education.
With a new class of origami robots, known as "OrigaMechs," the multidisciplinary team led by the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering has overcome a fundamental limitation of previous origami robots with their "chip-free" design. Instead of incorporating rigid computer chips into the design, the team embedded electrically conductive, flexible materials into polyester film sheets. The result is an intelligent system of transistors that can perform complex tasks without the need for semiconductors.
Ankur Mehta, the study's principal investigator, said, "These types of dangerous or unpredictable scenarios, such as during a natural or manmade disaster, could be where origami robots proved to be especially useful."
The chip-free origami robots combine the attributes of origami folding-based fabrication with high-level capabilities and autonomy. They are simpler in design and more compact than traditionally constructed robots, making them easier to store and transport. With their potential to be used in a wide range of applications, the possibilities for the future of origami robots are endless.