MIT researchers have developed an untethered miniature origami robot that self-folds, swims, and degrades. This is the first time that a robot has been able to demonstrate a complete life cycle. The robot consists of a magnet and PVC sandwiched between laser-cut structural layers of polystyrene or paper. It weighs less than a third of a gram.
The folding process is activated by placing the mini-robot on a source of heat. The PVC contracts and folds are created where the structural layers have been cut.
The robot is driven by a magnetic field that turns on and off at about 15Hz.
Once you are done with the robot, it can be dissolved in acetone. Researchers are working on a way to have the robot dissolve in water. Eventually scientists want to use robots like these inside the human body for tasks such as repairing tissue and disease detection.