MIT boffins exhibit self-forming 'programmable matter'
Terminator 2 robot blob-assassins multitools
Vid Almost unbelievably lazy boffins at Harvard and MIT, fatigued no doubt by the onerous task of fashioning paper planes for use during academic debates, have developed electrically powered self-folding paper able to do this without human input.
Here's a vid:
"Smart sheets are Origami Robots that will make any shape on demand for their user," says Daniela Rus of MIT's CSAIL Center for Robotics (well, as long as the shape required is a boat/hat or paper plane, for now).
"A big achievement was discovering the theoretical foundations and universality of folding and fold planning, which provide the brain and the decision making system for the smart sheet," adds Rus.
Rus and her Harvard colleague Robert Wood apparently drew heavily on the work of their collaborator Erik Demaine, described as "one of the world's most recognized experts on computational origami".
The boffins believe that their electro-folding paper is the first step on the road to so-called "programmable matter" able to take on many different forms as the user may require. Possibilities include a "smart cup" able to adjust its size and a "Swiss Army knife" multitool block-o-stuff able to form into "tools ranging from wrenches to tripods".
"Programmable matter", indeed. This stuff is clearly none other than the earliest version of the mimetic polyalloy from which the Terminator T-1000 was/will be made, able as any moviegoer knows to form itself into "knives and stabbing weapons".
It will come as no surprise to most readers that the boffins acknowledge the help of renegade military tech bureau DARPA in their research. As most observers of the agency have long suspected, it is plainly controlled by cybernetic assassins despatched from the future by time machine with the mission of funding the research which will give birth to their machine progenitors.
The scholarly paper in question can be read by subscribers to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences here. ®
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Well it's certainly going to revolutionise the greeting card industry a few years from now.
"Aww, thanks for the birthday card, yeah yeah right now it's folding itself into the shape of a cake. Hey it even has little candles on it that just ignited themselves, oh crap and the curtains..."
self folding jacket, must avoid hitting the fold button before I remove it.
If anyone has followed robotic research, there are a number of actuators built on bi-metallic strips that deform when current is applied. On robots this is used for fine actuators, i.e., moveable parts.
It would appear (based upon the traces) that this "paper" has been divided up into triangles, with each triangle being joined to the one next to it with a variant of this moveable actuator. By controlling which actuators are fired, and the sequence, you can then bend any triangle to any angle with respect to it's neighbour - thus forming shapes in 3D. The challenge is to know what triangles need to move how to form a given 3D shape - hence having a link to computational origami.
This is cool by itself - but WAY cooler when they can incorporate changes in COLOUR into those triangles...and then scale the number of triangles up by two orders of magnitudes, and then get more powerful actuators, and then get it wireless, and then...oh HELL, where did I put it - I can't SEE the thing anymore - but there is one too many chairs in this room...wait, one is MOVING towards me...argh!!!!
Programmed Folding Is...
...how DNA produces protiens with desired shapes and functions and, indeed, us.