A new robot created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Technische Universität München in Germany, can fold itself up, move on its own and, if needed, self-destruct. Measuring 1.7 cms in length and weighing 0.3 gms, it has a neodymium magnet with layers of polystyrene and PVC. If the robot’s materials are heated, it can transform itself into other shapes, hence the “origami” part of its name. A magnetic field made of four special coils powers its movements. It can be commanded to walk, swim or roll and can be made to self-destruct.
It could potentially be used for medical procedures, wherein a smaller version would be inserted into the patient’s bloodstream, and would navigate to the area of operation. After operating on the patient, it would be made to self-destruct by dissolving in the patient’s stomach. Another possible use is planetary exploration. Various sizes and models of the robot could collect soil or rock samples, and fit through tiny openings to study objects that are otherwise impossible to reach.