Technology, Health and the Art of Origami

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Robot origami created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Technology and entertainment make a good combination. Entertainment is a market avid for news, an almost unlimited field of possibilities for the application of technology, which it repays by offering precious insights. Take the case of the very small robots that researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working on whose form and function are based on the origami, the Japanese traditional art of paper folding.

This experience unfolds more surprises. These tiny robots are built in organic material and are small enough to be swallowed as a pill, packed in capsules. When these capsules dissolve, the robot-origami unfolds. Then, moving in the body as a folding, magnetically controlled from the outside, it is able to find an object in the stomach of a patient, wrapping it as a micro package. The researchers made a film showing it in action removing an object, a battery – the kind used in toys, that was swallowed by a child.

The robots-origami have been studied since 2010 at MIT and, in the last two years, have been coordinated by Professor Daniela Rus in the robotics lab of the university. In 2014, Rus studies in partnership with other researchers came up with the idea of printing the electronic components of the robot in a piece of plastic that, when heated, would be able to unfold automatically and acquire a predetermined form. The technical difficulty was to make the device unfold at the right angle, which was then resolved by Rus’s team.

The experiments to test the operability of the robot-origami were made in an artificial stomach, built from the stomach of a pig. The scientists have researched various materials for the experience. They opted for the pig’s gut, which is used (or was used) to make sausages. The next step will be to try to use the micro robots in human beings. It will sure be a great fun for the researchers.

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