The Origami Robots

Tiny, shape-shifting bots could one day work on your insides.

The next entrant into the robot race: miniature, origami-inspired machines that are controlled by magnetic fields:

MIT researchers debuted these tiny bug-like bots at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation. The origami robot can walk, swim, push objects, climb inclines, and carry objects twice its weight.

Not to mention, they’re quite charming.

The MIT team is hoping to refine this prototype into something that can be used to assist in surgeries, medical testing, or the delivery of medications to specific places in the body. They’ll need to get the robots much smaller to achieve that goal, but Hod Lipson, a Cornell professor who studies robotics, said that’s next. As he told MIT News, “I think the techniques they describe would scale to smaller and smaller dimensions, so they by no means have reached a limit.”

For now, they think the most likely near-term application is inspecting tight, hard-to-reach places.