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Flat-pack flying Mobee microbots inspired by origami

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Harvard engineers have devised a new technique for rapidly fabricating and assembling tiny robots. The technique is inspired by origami, and allows for dozens of robots to be manufactured and self-assembled from a single sheet.

harvard monolithic bee
harvard monolithic bee

Harvard University engineers have devised an origami-inspired technique for rapidly fabricating and assembling tiny robots. The Harvard Monolithic Bee (Mobee for short) is designed to be manufactured dozens at a time on a single sheet, and can be assembled in a single movement — not a trivial task, given that its insectoid structure features 137 folding joints despite being 2.4-millimeters tall and weighing in at 1/63rd of a US quarter by mass. Before this technique, each joint was painstakingly folded and secured by hand, but now 18 layers of various materials are laminated together with hinges that allow for easy assembly. Of course, the human touch is still required to design the sheets in the first place, but once this has been perfected there's apparently no room for human error, with the alignment being verifiable to less than five microns. There's scope for the technique to be used in optical systems and other electromechanical devices in future, but for now it's helping Harvard researchers build up their colony of Mobees.

Watch from around 3.00 onwards to see the assembly process for yourself.