Filed under: Artificial Intelligence, Brave New World, Connections, NPR, Predictions, Science, Science Fiction, tech | Tags: blogging, Communion of Dreams, jim downey, Joe Palca, John von Neumann, microbots, NPR, origami, predictions, robotics, science, Science Fiction, self-replicating machines, technology, video
Every so often, a scientific paper just begs for a sexy headline.
Consider this study in the current issue of Science: “A Method for Building Self-Folding Machines.” A bit bland, you’ll no doubt agree. A Real-Life, Origami-Inspired Transformer is how the journal’s public affairs department referred to it. Now that’s more like it.
* * *
It’s now possible to print electronic circuits on a flat sheet of paper. So if you use some clever folding techniques (based on the ancient art of paper folding called origami), you can fold these sheets into useful structures — maybe a crab-shaped robot that could scuttle across the floor, or a swan-shaped robot that could really fly.
Kinda like the beastie up above there. The really clever bit was using a thermal-activated material called a shape memory polymer which would cause the paper (or whatever material) to fold as needed. So you basically create flat-pack robots which can be remotely activated into a useful machine as needed.
It’s fun living in the future.
*Named after John von Neumann, who among many other impressive accomplishments was instrumental in developing the concept of self-replicating machines. The term has been commonly used this way in Science Fiction for decades.
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