Transformers are real, but they haven't come from Cybertron to lay waste to a major metropolitan area.
No, these Transformers are a little bit more subtle and unfortunately, at the moment, they can't really transform into anything more complex than a sheet of paper. But, come on! It's a start.
Researchers from Harvard, MIT and Cornell have worked together to produce machines which can turn fold themselves - origami style - into a fully mobile robot DEATH MACHINE. (OK, perhaps 'DEATH MACHINE' is a bit over-the-top). Check out the video showing off the plucky little guys below:
The bots, which only cost around $100 to make, are predominately made of paper with some Shinky Dinks thrown in for good measure. Harvard's Robert J. Wood had this to say in a statement:
Getting a robot to assemble itself autonomously and actually perform a function has been a milestone we've been chasing for many years.
Cornell physicist and collaborator Itai Cohen added:
You can imagine a folded sheet of some material and popping in defects to make a stiff shield, or somehow deploying an object and giving it a rigid backbone. You can think of it as appendages that can be locked in place or a useful tool whose properties can be set once it has been deployed. It is amazing that there are so many hidden scientific research problems buried in just a simple sheet of paper.
I suppose while these machines are still made of paper there's not too much to worry about. However, things might be different if they start building them to a massive scale and out of titanium. All they need to do then is become self-aware and then we've got full blown Bayhem on our hands.
May I be the first to welcome our future folding robotic overlords.
Folding robots are...