back to article Tiny transforming bots: Meet these self-assembling 'thoughtful' droids

Engineers have come up with self-folding robots that can put themselves together and crawl away on their own – although batteries must be included. Three stages of the origami robots assembling Three stages of the origami robots assembling. (Credit: Seth Kroll) Foldable ‘bots are nothing new, but this is the first time …

  1. John H Woods


    video appears to be here

    1. NotArghGeeCee

      Re: Link

      Coo! It either shit itself or something got quite hot.

    2. Natalie Gritpants

      Re: Link

      Also that vodeo contains a rare sighting of the fast moving superhero: Interlaceman.

    3. Alfie Noakes

      Re: Link

      Wow - that is the MOST cookies that i have ever had to accept to watch a mere video!

  2. Ian K

    "a robot that can fold itself into arbitrary shapes"

    "Arbitrary"? The folding patterns look to be very pre-defined (and in this specific case, actually a singular pattern) to me.

  3. Anonymous Blowhard

    I, for one, welcome our flat-pack robotic overlords!


    1. MrT

      Research sponsored by IKEA...

      ... with money saved from not having to include an Allen key in every pack. Help desk support calls also reduced to a single recorded message - "Please insert batteries into your <comical-name>** and direct it to the location you prefer..."

      ** As just one of many, many examples, they had a range of wooden storage crates called Dick, but on one visit to the Park 27 branch near Leeds they only had the small size on display... yes, MrsT did ask the question about other sizes, to a guy who had, apparently, heard it all before...

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Research sponsored by IKEA...

        being made of paper they should be a lot more solid than their normal produce.

      2. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Research sponsored by IKEA...

        >Research sponsored by IKEA...

        The Dr Who writing team called. They want their episode back.

        If you could mail to them in the future seven months from now, that would be great.

  4. Clive Galway

    Can master electronics / robotics...

    But deinterlacing the video is clearly a bit beyond them!

    Why does anyone even record in anything but progressive these days? What did they use? MiniDV??

    So '90s!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can master electronics / robotics...

      Obviously you haven't ever tried to get ANYTHING done in academic research. Far too often it is a question of what you can hack together (improvise rapidly) to advance the project. I can speak from personal experience that there is never enough of anything so it's a question of what gets short-shrift and hopefully it's not the actual research, just the support elements like computers, media devices....

      1. Clive Galway

        Re: Can master electronics / robotics...

        You spend all that time developing something new and interesting, and when the time comes to show it off to the world, you omit to do something which takes you an extra 10 seconds.

        OK, so they may not know what deinterlacing is, or why they would need it, but surely one look at the video would tell you something was wrong, and a quick google would tell you what the problem is and how to fix it.

        Seriously, would you let what was quite possibly the culmination of your life's work be represented in that way?

  5. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    The flattened ‘bot transforms itself into a functional machine

    So what function does it perform? I suppose walking away is a sort of function, but it's not a very useful one.

    I, for one, am happy to wave goodbye to our robotic flat-pack overlords...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So what function does it perform?

      Nothing yet, but add a camera and a wireless link and you can start posting perv bots through letterboxes*

      (*) Correction: terrorist surveillance facilities (sounds nicer and you can sell them for a LOT more money).

  6. MrMcginty


    Reminds me of the 'upgraded' origami-bird version of the Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy in 'Mostly Harmless' and subsequent audio adaptations.

    And the 'skittering' (00.48 - soooo creepy!) reminds me of the 'pull-toy' a technician invented for James Cameron so that a face-hugger could chase Ripley and Newt in 'Aliens'.

    [Where's the 'side-nerdiness' icon?]

  7. mamsey

    Aaargh Replicators...

    real life emulating fiction.

  8. The_Idiot


    Don Caldari slid his letter opener into the envelope. A letter from a mother was, he thought, a son's gift. Well, or so his mother had always told him. And the postmark on this one was one he knew well. He slid the letter from the envelope.

    "Che cazzo!"

    Whatever people might think of Mama Caldari's collection of vintage stiletto blades, advertising material for cheap kitchen knives wasn't part of her usual letters to her son. Don Caldari spat, and threw the sheet of bright coloured paper into the wastebasket. He turned back to his desk, cursing the inventor of junk mail.

    In his waste basket, the paper began to fold itself, according to its pre-programmed instructions. The specially stiffened paper blade, with a coating of Venezuelan tree-frog venom, stood tall as the letter headed for a final delivery to its intended recipient....

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm...

      You beat me to the same thought but:

      Cue Country guitar and violin and think of these words ,

      As I look at the letters that you wrote to me

      It's you that I am thinking of

      As I read the lines, that to me were so dear

      I remember our faded lo.... AAAAaaarggh noooo don't cut me there!!

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Actually the clever bit is the *design* software.

    And when boffins use the word "arbitrary" they mean that they can design a part to a specific size, shape or requirement, rather than a cut-and-try-and-hope-it-works process.

    Keep in mind this version is made in paper.

    That is not a requirement for future versions.

    My instinct is the limits are set by the areal strength of the shape memory materials.

    Thumbs up for clever thinking and not breaking the bank to do the research.

  10. Slap

    I just love...

    I just love all varieties of these seemingly innocuous tech demonstrations because it keeps me guessing as to how we're going to get fucked when somebody, or some AI, pulls all of this shit together.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: I just love...

      I figure it this way. I was diagnosed terminal back in 2001 with three to five years to live. So, I'm well past my expiration date. So, if singularity occurs and I'm still around to see it, I've lost nothing. I'm sure it's going to be highly entertaining in a nerdy kind of way. For everyone else, well....

  11. Trygve Henriksen

    Assemble itself?


    Cars with motorized windows also 'assemble themselves' when the driver locks the door and the automatics closes the windows?

    Man, who oversaw that project?

    Captain Cyborg?

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