An impressive little robot small enough to fit through your letterbox and invade your house has been spotted on the internet this week.
The abstract from the research paper is as follows:
A miniature robotic device that can fold-up on the spot, accomplish tasks, and disappear by degradation into the environment promises a range of medical applications but has so far been a challenge in engineering. This work presents a sheet that can self-fold into a functional 3D robot, actuate immediately for untethered walking and swimming, and subsequently dissolve in liquid. The developed sheet weighs 0.31 g, spans 1.7 cm square in size, features a cubic neodymium magnet, and can be thermally activated to self-fold. Since the robot has asymmetric body balance along the sagittal axis, the robot can walk at a speed of 3.8 body-length/s being remotely controlled by an alternating external magnetic field. We further show that the robot is capable of conducting basic tasks and behaviors, including swimming, delivering/carrying blocks, climbing a slope, and digging. The developed models include an acetone-degradable version, which allows the entire robot’s body to vanish in a liquid. We thus experimentally demonstrate the complete life cycle of our robot: self-folding, actuation, and degrading.
Further information can be found the full pdf here.