Origami robotics is no longer a thing of science fiction as Haitao Yang and colleagues at the interdisciplinary departments of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering in the U.S. and Singapore finally made steps to make this invention come to life.

Initial trials for the project faced obstacles when it came to the materials that are to be used for the exoskeleton of the robot, materials ranging from all sorts of heavy weight materials were just to large to make the origami bot function. However, yang’s group developed a graphene oxide (GO)-enabled templating synthesis process to produce reconfigurable, compliant and multifunctional metallic backbones.

To stay true to its inspiration, initial trials also used cellulose paper, polyester, polyether ether ketone and polytetrafluoroenthylene to try and mimic the appearance of paper origamis however this proved to be inevitably insufficient to make the creation functional. As answer to this, the research team has developed platinum origami structures made stable with thin elastomers to form multifunctional backbones as substitute external material.

Origami robots arose from the need to engineer artificial muscles, self-folding machines, spring origami systems and robotic metamorphosis which will lead into a more industrialized and more efficient robotics industry. This is a step forward into enhancement of the robotics industry in general.