We need O’Neill and his team stat. Scientists from Harvard and MIT have created a robot that transforms from a flat position into shape and crawls away. Damn thing even looks like a replicator. Check out the video below.
So, what’s the robot made of? It starts out as a sheet of polymer material with electronics and motors attached to the top side. This polymer sheet is cut in such a way that it can fold into a desired structure. Hinges help bring the structure into shape, while a flexible circuit board supports the robot. An embedded computer tells the hinges to fold in a certain order with it taking about 4 minutes for the robot to reach its final shape. Once the robot locks in, it crawls away. The team published their results in the August 8 issue of Science.
The applications for such a robot are endless. Study author Robert Wood points out one possible use for the robot could be for search-and-rescue missions in collapsed buildings. First responders could slide the robot under debris and then use it to locate survivors or potential danger zones within the rubble.
There are some substantial hurdles for scientists to overcome. Mainly, control. This concept is in the early stages though. Just proof that it works is enough to get excited.
What could the future hold for self-assembling robots? The team envisions flat satellites that assemble themselves once in space. Or even more mundane tasks such as cleaning up the lawn.
And hey, if Elon Musk is right about the dangers of AI, SG-1 shows a good shotgun blast takes care of crawling robots.