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← Origami robots that reshape and transform themselves

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Showing Revision 9 created 07/10/2019 by Oliver Friedman.

  1. As a roboticist,
    I get asked a lot of questions.
  2. "When we will they start
    serving me breakfast?"
  3. So I thought the future of robotics
    would be looking more like us.
  4. I thought they would look like me,
  5. so I built eyes
    that would simulate my eyes.
  6. I built fingers that are dextrous
    enough to serve me ...
  7. baseballs.
  8. Classical robots like this

  9. are built and become functional
  10. based on the fixed number
    of joints and actuators.
  11. And this means their functionality
    and shape are already fixed
  12. at the moment of their conception.
  13. So even though this arm
    has a really nice throw --
  14. it even hit the tripod at the end--
  15. it's not meant for cooking you
    breakfast per se.
  16. It's not really suited for scrambled eggs.
  17. So this was when I was hit
    by a new vision of future robotics:

  18. the transformers.
  19. They drive, they run, they fly,
  20. all depending on the ever-changing,
    new environment and task at hand.
  21. To make this a reality,
  22. you really have to rethink
    how robots are designed.
  23. So, imagine a robotic module
    in a polygon shape
  24. and using that simple polygon shape
  25. to reconstruct multiple different forms
  26. to create a new form of robot
    for different tasks.
  27. In CG, computer graphics,
    it's not any news --
  28. it's been done for a while, and that's how
    most of the movies are made.
  29. But if you're trying to make a robot
    that's physically moving,
  30. it's a completely new story.
  31. It's a completely new paradigm.
  32. But you've all done this.

  33. Who hasn't made a paper airplane,
    paper boat, paper crane?
  34. Origami is a versatile
    platform for designers.
  35. From a single sheet of paper,
    you can make multiple shapes,
  36. and if you don't like it,
    you unfold and fold back again.
  37. Any 3D form can be made
    from 2D surfaces by folding,
  38. and this is proven mathematically.
  39. And imagine if you were to have
    an intelligent sheet
  40. that can self-fold into any form it wants,
  41. anytime.
  42. And that's what I've been working on.
  43. I call this robotic origami,
  44. "robogami."
  45. This is our first robogami transformation

  46. that was made by me about 10 years ago.
  47. From a flat-sheeted robot,
  48. it turns into a pyramid
    and back into a flat sheet
  49. and into a space shuttle.
  50. Quite cute.
  51. Ten years later, with my group
    of ninja origami robotic researchers --

  52. about 22 of them right now --
  53. we have a new generation of robogamis,
  54. and they're a little more effective
    and they do more than that.
  55. So the new generation of robogamis
    actually serve a purpose.
  56. For example, this one actually navigates
    through different terrains autonomously.
  57. So when it's a dry
    and flat land, it crawls.
  58. And if it meets sudden rough terrain,
  59. it starts rolling.
  60. It does this -- it's the same robot --
  61. but depending on which terrain it meets,
  62. it activates a different sequence
    of actuators that's on board.
  63. And once it meets an obstacle,
    it jumps over it.
  64. It does this by storing energy
    in each of its legs
  65. and releasing it and catapulting
    like a slingshot.
  66. And it even does gymnastics.
  67. Yay.
  68. (Laughter)

  69. So I just showed you
    what a single robogami can do.

  70. Imagine what they can do as a group.
  71. They can join forces to tackle
    more complex tasks.
  72. Each module, either active or passive,
  73. we can assemble them
    to create different shapes.
  74. Not only that, by controlling
    the folding joints,
  75. we're able to create and attack
    different tasks.
  76. The form is making new task space.
  77. And this time, what's most
    important is the assembly.
  78. They need to autonomously
    find each other in a different space,
  79. attach and detach, depending on
    the environment and task.
  80. And we can do this now.
  81. So what's next?

  82. Our imagination.
  83. This is a simulation
    of what you can achieve

  84. with this type of module.
  85. We decided that we were going
    to have a four-legged crawler
  86. turn into a little dog
    and make small gaits.
  87. With the same module, we can actually
    make it do something else:
  88. a manipulator, a typical,
    classical robotic task.
  89. So with a manipulator,
    it can pick up an object.
  90. Of course, you can add more modules
    to make the manipulator legs longer
  91. to attack or pick up objects
    that are bigger or smaller,
  92. or even have a third arm.
  93. For robogamis, there's no
    one fixed shape nor task.
  94. They can transform into anything,
    anywhere, anytime.
  95. So how do you make them?

  96. The biggest technical challenge
    of robogami is keeping them super thin,
  97. flexible,
  98. but still remaining functional.
  99. They're composed of multiple layers
    of circuits, motors,
  100. microcontrollers and sensors,
  101. all in the single body,
  102. and when you control
    individual folding joints,
  103. you'll be able to achieve
    soft motions like that
  104. upon your command.
  105. Instead of being a single robot that is
    specifically made for a single task,
  106. robogamis are optimized to do multi-tasks.
  107. And this is quite important
  108. for the difficult and unique
    environments on the Earth
  109. as well as in space.
  110. Space is a perfect
    environment for robogamis.

  111. You cannot afford to have
    one robot for one task.
  112. Who knows how many tasks
    you will encounter in space?
  113. What you want is a single robotic platform
    that can transform to do multi-tasks.
  114. What we want is a deck
    of thin robogami modules
  115. that can transform to do multiples
    of performing tasks.
  116. And don't take my word for it,
  117. because the European Space Agency
    and Swiss Space Center
  118. are sponsoring this exact concept.
  119. So here you see a couple of images
    of reconfiguration of robogamis,

  120. exploring the foreign land
    aboveground, on the surface,
  121. as well as digging into the surface.
  122. It's not just exploration.
  123. For astronauts, they need additional help,
  124. because you cannot afford
    to bring interns up there, either.
  125. (Laughter)

  126. They have to do every tedious task.

  127. They may be simple,
  128. but super interactive.
  129. So you need robots
    to facilitate their experiments,
  130. assisting them with the communications
  131. and just docking onto surfaces to be
    their third arm holding different tools.
  132. But how will they be able
    to control robogamis, for example,
  133. outside the space station?
  134. In this case, I show a robogami
    that is holding space debris.
  135. You can work with your vision
    so that you can control them,
  136. but what would be better
    is having the sensation of touch
  137. directly transported onto
    the hands of the astronauts.
  138. And what you need is a haptic device,
  139. a haptic interface that recreates
    the sensation of touch.
  140. And using robogamis, we can do this.
  141. This is the world's
    smallest haptic interface

  142. that can recreate a sensation of touch
    just underneath your fingertip.
  143. We do this by moving the robogami
  144. by microscopic and macroscopic
    movements at the stage.
  145. And by having this, not only
    will you be able to feel
  146. how big the object is,
  147. the roundness and the lines,
  148. but also the stiffness and the texture.
  149. Alex has this interface
    just underneath his thumb,
  150. and if he were to use this
    with VR goggles and hand controllers,
  151. now the virtual reality
    is no longer virtual.
  152. It becomes a tangible reality.
  153. The blue ball, red ball
    and black ball that he's looking at
  154. is no longer differentiated by colors.
  155. Now it is a rubber blue ball,
    sponge red ball and billiard black ball.
  156. This is now possible.
  157. Let me show you.
  158. This is really the first time
    this is shown live

  159. in front of a public grand audience,
  160. so hopefully this works.
  161. So what you see here
    is an atlas of anatomy
  162. and the robogami haptic interface.
  163. So, like all the other
    reconfigurable robots,
  164. it multitasks.
  165. Not only is it going to serve as a mouse,
  166. but also a haptic interface.
  167. So for example, we have a white background
    where there is no object.

  168. That means there is nothing to feel,
  169. so we can have a very,
    very flexible interface.
  170. Now, I use this as a mouse
    to approach skin,
  171. a muscular arm,
  172. so now let's feel his biceps,
  173. or shoulders.
  174. So now you see
    how much stiffer it becomes.
  175. Let's explore even more.
  176. Let's approach the ribcage.
  177. And as soon as I move
    on top of the ribcage
  178. and between the intercostal muscles,
  179. which is softer and harder,
  180. I can feel the difference
    of the stiffness.
  181. Take my word for it.
  182. So now you see, it's much stiffer
    in terms of the force
  183. it's giving back to my fingertip.
  184. So I showed you the surfaces
    that aren't moving.

  185. How about if I were to approach
    something that moves,
  186. for example, like a beating heart?
  187. What would I feel?
  188. (Applause)

  189. This can be your beating heart.

  190. This can actually be inside your pocket
  191. while you're shopping online.
  192. Now you'll be able to feel the difference
    of the sweater that you're buying,
  193. how soft it is,
  194. if it's actually cashmere or not,
  195. or the bagel that you're trying to buy,
  196. how hard it is or how crispy it is.
  197. This is now possible.
  198. The robotics technology is advancing
    to be more personalized and adaptive,

  199. to adapt to our everyday needs.
  200. This unique specie
    of reconfigurable robotics
  201. is actually the platform to provide
    this invisible, intuitive interface
  202. to meet our exact needs.
  203. These robots will no longer look like
    the characters from the movies.
  204. Instead, they will be whatever
    you want them to be.
  205. Thank you.

  206. (Applause)