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'superhero' Robot Wears Different Outfits For Different Tasks

By MIT News

September 29, 2017

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Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed Primer, a shape-shifting robot that can reconfigure itself into different exoskeletal "outfits" to perform distinct tasks.

Primer is controlled with magnets to make it walk, roll on wheels, sail on water, and glide, using plastic-sheet exoskeletons that fold into specific shapes in response to heat and dissolve in water when no longer needed.

"Our approach shows that origami-inspired manufacturing allows us to have robotic components that are versatile, accessible, and reusable," says MIT professor Daniela Rus.

The researchers note Primer also can wear multiple exoskeletons at once, and their next goal is to broaden the robot's capabilities, from driving in water to burrowing in sand to camouflaging its color.

"With this metamorphosis-inspired approach, we can extend the capabilities of a single robot by giving it different 'accessories' to use in different situations," Rus says.

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