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Robotics: Taking millimetre-scale origami robots for a spin

Nature Communications

June 15, 2022

A millimetre-scale origami robot, which uses magnets and origami folding for multidirectional spinning-based locomotion, is presented in a paper in Nature Communications. The robot is amphibious, capable of locomotion in various environments and can perform tasks including controlled liquid medicine delivery and targeted solid cargo transport.

Wireless millimetre-scale origami robots have the potential to perform various tasks and may have potential biomedical applications. However, existing origami robots require complex systems to achieve multi-functionality. In addition, these robots show limited locomotion modes and cannot achieve movement on both ground and in water.

Ruike Renee Zhao and colleagues developed a rotation-enabled wireless, amphibious millirobot that can roll, flip and spin. The robot has a cross-sectional diameter of 7.8 mm and consists of Kresling origami (a triangulated hollow cylinder) patterns with attached magnetic plates. The robot uses the folding/unfolding capability of Kresling origami to roll, flip and spin. In addition, the folding/unfolding nature of the millirobot allows for a pumping action that is able to deliver liquid medicine. The authors also highlight that the spinning motion provides a sucking mechanism for cargo transportation.

The authors conclude that the millirobots may eventually serve as minimally invasive devices for biomedical diagnosis and treatments.

doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-30802-w

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