Autopilot: The paper plane that folds itself

01.07.2010 Harvard : MIT : Massachusetts Institute Of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts – Researchers at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed self-folding sheets of fibreglass that can transform themselves into everyday forms, inspired by the ancient art of origami.

In the above demonstration video, a sheet folds itself into a boat and a plane. In future, say researchers, the concept could result in ‘smart’ cups that adjust based on the amount of liquid needed or a ‘Swiss army knife’ that could form into tools ranging from wrenches to tripods.

To enable them to fold, the sheets are embedded with electronic strips as wide as human hair and a nickel-titanium ‘shape-memory’ prompts them to change shape when heated. For more on MIT’s innovative solutions, read a recent Seed about the invisible mouse.

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