California: Taking inspiration from origami, Caltech and Harvard University researchers have built a multifunctional soft robot which can change shape in response to heat.
Called Rollbot, the untethered soft robot is built using liquid crystal elastomers and 3D-printed soft hinges that are encoded to fold based on the temperature, Caltech's official release notes.
The Rollbot measures 8cmx4cm in flat form. When placed on a hot surface, about 200 degrees Celsius, one set of hinges folds, curling the robot into a pentagonal wheel. The second set of hinges on the sides of the wheel fold further to roll the wheel.
The liquid crystal elastomers can also be programmed to respond to light, pH, humidity, and other external stimuli for improved passive controlling of the bots.