Friday, July 09, 2010

#Robot #Transformer Shape-Shifts Using #Programmable #Matter

The #robotic #transformers made popular by comics, television and movies may seem fanciful, but are entirely within the realm of possibility, judging by these researchers success at building #electronic #origami. Look for applications of "programmable matter" that shape-shifts to adapt to environmental circumstances within seven years. R.C.J.

The 32-tile sheet (left) of programmable matter is "electronic origami" capable of achieving two distinct shapes: a “boat” (center) and an “airplane” (right).

A Harvard/MIT team has harnessed the ancient art of origami and programmed it into smart robotic sheets that can fold into nearly any shape. Called "programmable matter" by the research team at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), single thin sheets have been constructed from hinged triangular sections that can autonomously fold and refold to transform into different origami shapes—from an airplane to a boat. While it sounds easy in concept, the execution earned a pair of electrical engineers—Robert Wood from Harvard and Daniela Rus from MIT—bragging rights for an article in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Also consulting on the project was EE professor Erik Demaine, an expert on computerized origami...
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