Origami robots that reshape and transform themselves | Jamie Paik


As a roboticist,
I get asked a lot of questions. “When we will they start
serving me breakfast?” So I thought the future of robotics
would be looking more like us. I thought they would look like me, so I built eyes
that would simulate my eyes. I built fingers that are dextrous
enough to serve me … baseballs. Classical robots like this are built and become functional based on the fixed number
of joints and actuators. And this means their functionality
and shape are already fixed at the moment of their conception. So even though this arm
has a really nice throw — it even hit the tripod at the end– it’s not meant for cooking you
breakfast per se. It’s not really suited for scrambled eggs. So this was when I was hit
by a new vision of future robotics: the transformers. They drive, they run, they fly, all depending on the ever-changing,
new environment and task at hand. To make this a reality, you really have to rethink
how robots are designed. So, imagine a robotic module
in a polygon shape and using that simple polygon shape to reconstruct multiple different forms to create a new form of robot
for different tasks. In CG, computer graphics,
it’s not any news — it’s been done for a while, and that’s how
most of the movies are made. But if you’re trying to make a robot
that’s physically moving, it’s a completely new story. It’s a completely new paradigm. But you’ve all done this. Who hasn’t made a paper airplane,
paper boat, paper crane? Origami is a versatile
platform for designers. From a single sheet of paper,
you can make multiple shapes, and if you don’t like it,
you unfold and fold back again. Any 3D form can be made
from 2D surfaces by folding, and this is proven mathematically. And imagine if you were to have
an intelligent sheet that can self-fold into any form it wants, anytime. And that’s what I’ve been working on. I call this robotic origami, “robogami.” This is our first robogami transformation that was made by me about 10 years ago. From a flat-sheeted robot, it turns into a pyramid
and back into a flat sheet and into a space shuttle. Quite cute. Ten years later, with my group
of ninja origami robotic researchers — about 22 of them right now — we have a new generation of robogamis, and they’re a little more effective
and they do more than that. So the new generation of robogamis
actually serve a purpose. For example, this one actually navigates
through different terrains autonomously. So when it’s a dry
and flat land, it crawls. And if it meets sudden rough terrain, it starts rolling. It does this — it’s the same robot — but depending on which terrain it meets, it activates a different sequence
of actuators that’s on board. And once it meets an obstacle,
it jumps over it. It does this by storing energy
in each of its legs and releasing it and catapulting
like a slingshot. And it even does gymnastics. Yay. (Laughter) So I just showed you
what a single robogami can do. Imagine what they can do as a group. They can join forces to tackle
more complex tasks. Each module, either active or passive, we can assemble them
to create different shapes. Not only that, by controlling
the folding joints, we’re able to create and attack
different tasks. The form is making new task space. And this time, what’s most
important is the assembly. They need to autonomously
find each other in a different space, attach and detach, depending on
the environment and task. And we can do this now. So what’s next? Our imagination. This is a simulation
of what you can achieve with this type of module. We decided that we were going
to have a four-legged crawler turn into a little dog
and make small gaits. With the same module, we can actually
make it do something else: a manipulator, a typical,
classical robotic task. So with a manipulator,
it can pick up an object. Of course, you can add more modules
to make the manipulator legs longer to attack or pick up objects
that are bigger or smaller, or even have a third arm. For robogamis, there’s no
one fixed shape nor task. They can transform into anything,
anywhere, anytime. So how do you make them? The biggest technical challenge
of robogami is keeping them super thin, flexible, but still remaining functional. They’re composed of multiple layers
of circuits, motors, microcontrollers and sensors, all in the single body, and when you control
individual folding joints, you’ll be able to achieve
soft motions like that upon your command. Instead of being a single robot that is
specifically made for a single task, robogamis are optimized to do multi-tasks. And this is quite important for the difficult and unique
environments on the Earth as well as in space. Space is a perfect
environment for robogamis. You cannot afford to have
one robot for one task. Who knows how many tasks
you will encounter in space? What you want is a single robotic platform
that can transform to do multi-tasks. What we want is a deck
of thin robogami modules that can transform to do multiples
of performing tasks. And don’t take my word for it, because the European Space Agency
and Swiss Space Center are sponsoring this exact concept. So here you see a couple of images
of reconfiguration of robogamis, exploring the foreign land
aboveground, on the surface, as well as digging into the surface. It’s not just exploration. For astronauts, they need additional help, because you cannot afford
to bring interns up there, either. (Laughter) They have to do every tedious task. They may be simple, but super interactive. So you need robots
to facilitate their experiments, assisting them with the communications and just docking onto surfaces to be
their third arm holding different tools. But how will they be able
to control robogamis, for example, outside the space station? In this case, I show a robogami
that is holding space debris. You can work with your vision
so that you can control them, but what would be better
is having the sensation of touch directly transported onto
the hands of the astronauts. And what you need is a haptic device, a haptic interface that recreates
the sensation of touch. And using robogamis, we can do this. This is the world’s
smallest haptic interface that can recreate a sensation of touch
just underneath your fingertip. We do this by moving the robogami by microscopic and macroscopic
movements at the stage. And by having this, not only
will you be able to feel how big the object is, the roundness and the lines, but also the stiffness and the texture. Alex has this interface
just underneath his thumb, and if he were to use this
with VR goggles and hand controllers, now the virtual reality
is no longer virtual. It becomes a tangible reality. The blue ball, red ball
and black ball that he’s looking at is no longer differentiated by colors. Now it is a rubber blue ball,
sponge red ball and billiard black ball. This is now possible. Let me show you. This is really the first time
this is shown live in front of a public grand audience, so hopefully this works. So what you see here
is an atlas of anatomy and the robogami haptic interface. So, like all the other
reconfigurable robots, it multitasks. Not only is it going to serve as a mouse, but also a haptic interface. So for example, we have a white background
where there is no object. That means there is nothing to feel, so we can have a very,
very flexible interface. Now, I use this as a mouse
to approach skin, a muscular arm, so now let’s feel his biceps, or shoulders. So now you see
how much stiffer it becomes. Let’s explore even more. Let’s approach the ribcage. And as soon as I move
on top of the ribcage and between the intercostal muscles, which is softer and harder, I can feel the difference
of the stiffness. Take my word for it. So now you see, it’s much stiffer
in terms of the force it’s giving back to my fingertip. So I showed you the surfaces
that aren’t moving. How about if I were to approach
something that moves, for example, like a beating heart? What would I feel? (Applause) This can be your beating heart. This can actually be inside your pocket while you’re shopping online. Now you’ll be able to feel the difference
of the sweater that you’re buying, how soft it is, if it’s actually cashmere or not, or the bagel that you’re trying to buy, how hard it is or how crispy it is. This is now possible. The robotics technology is advancing
to be more personalized and adaptive, to adapt to our everyday needs. This unique specie
of reconfigurable robotics is actually the platform to provide
this invisible, intuitive interface to meet our exact needs. These robots will no longer look like
the characters from the movies. Instead, they will be whatever
you want them to be. Thank you. (Applause)

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100 thoughts on “Origami robots that reshape and transform themselves | Jamie Paik

  1. Now imagine 20 years later,
    You open door to take news paper you saw one of them small bots
    You close door
    You saw other one right coming through window
    You ran
    In to bedroom
    Under the bedshit
    You know what i mean
    You ran to bathroom
    They are coming through
    You are right
    And last scene ; you are completely covered by them, one of them close you last eyes
    It's not ended now
    Then they starts to go inside mouth
    What terrible day
    Your stomach starts hurting
    Pressure increase to max level
    What a terrible day
    Now
    You wake from bad dream and goes to toilet and then open door for news paper
    You took news paper and just moving back then you saw it
    Just like dream,
    Now story run the same except you know the end.
    – just joking this could be great technology but in wrong hands not sure.

  2. About 20 years ago MIT started working on self assembly robots with a cube shape which is a lot more useful. She lacks confidence on stage because their prototypes are still toys that are useless, that's also why she shows a lot of simulation/animation but only a few actual image of the devices at work. That's a nice idea, but implemented the wrong way and really far from production as something useful, the task is very complex. This TED video looks like a talk to collect investor funds.

  3. What I don't like about such things is that we keep seeing advancements but no actual use.

    It's like creating something halfway.

    If it's really that useful then why don't you , the designer , make a commercial product, that is useful. If people but it, it'll become successful.

    Like phone companies.

  4. It makes sense to make robots based on what humans can't achieve rather than making robots to replace daily human tasks

  5. Truth be told Ive thought for years the problemt with robotics is that c omponents are frames not available to make a robot that is lighter and can just fold itself out to carry out a task and then be hidden away.

    I felt robots could be quite thin and have light frames with and not be anywhere hear as heavy if a frames was made and components for joints were smalled and could be designed around.

  6. A lot of photoshopped and CG theory of usage. But no working demos of how these conjoining robot tiles can actually work in the real world. And the prototypes were at X5 speed mostly I think. Interesting project, but I'm not convinced with its application in the real world.

  7. Good stop action and cartoon keep those tax dollars coming are they making them for growing food. The #1 problem in this future

  8. Brilliant! I can just imagine it fixing a lot of people's gripes with online shopping. Being able to feel the product you're looking at in a picture sounds amazing. Bravo!

  9. This was really cool! A while back I was looking at the different ways origami has been used in inventions for a project but the robogamis are a huge step up! So gassed to see what else could happen

  10. Wow! Great presenter and robot tech. I can imagine the eventual application of empty rooms where furniture on demand forms from the walls and floors…so many useful applications. Very exciting.

  11. Making a surface of millimetre size haptic interface integrated under smartphone screen or smart watch screen, that would be awesome.

  12. Origami robotics was actually depicted many years ago in an old movie titled the Demon Seed with Julie Christie and Robert Vaughn. Check it out.

  13. I was only semi impressed until she came up with that soft touch display through robogami.. that heart pulse shook me to core 👍👍👍👏👏👏

  14. 3:45 2019 and you show us a crawling robot? We had that in the middle ages , didn't even need electricity you just wound it up, I mean this is awful

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