Origami principles can unleash the potential of the smallest robots, increasing speed, agility, and control in machines no more than a centimeter in size. Researchers at the University of Michigan have demonstrated that the behavioral rules underlying the Japanese art of folding can enhance the capabilities of these machines. This will create the potential for increased use of robots in areas such as medical equipment and infrastructural sensing. Microrobot Research publishes Advanced Functional Materials.
Scientists have come up with a new way to design, manufacture, and operate microrobots. The team of Evgeny Filipov, Associate Professor of Engineering Sciences in Civil and Environmental Sciences, was the first to apply the advanced origami folding capabilities in one integrated microrobot system.
New microrobots can form one shape, complete a task, then reconfigure into a second shape for an additional task, and so on.
Today, most microrobots are limited in movement, making it difficult for them to perform useful tasks. To increase their range of motion, they need to be able to fold at large angles. The University of Michigan (UM) team has created microrobots that can fold up to 90 degrees or more. This allows microrobots to shape more complex shapes to complete tasks.