Researchers at MIT recently demonstrated a tiny robot that folds itself, walks, swims, and then dissolves in acetone, the IEEE Spectrum reported.
The robot weighs 0.31g, is made of a magnet and PVC held between laser-cut layers of polystyrene or paper, and each side is about 1.7cm long.
When placed on a heating element, the PVC contracts and creates folds where the structural layers have been cut. It is folded and ready to go in under a minute.
Though it can move around at speeds of 3-4cm/s, the robot’s motor isn’t built into the self-folding package.
Instead, it folds itself around a neodymium permanent magnet, and then four electromagnetic coils underneath the surface of the robot steer it.
The video below shows the robot in action. A more detailed explanation of its workings is available on the IEEE Spectrum website.