Battery-Free Robots Use Origami to Change Shape in Mid-Air

University of Washington researchers have developed small robotic devices — “microfliers” — that can change how they move through the air by “snapping” into a folded position during their descent. When dropped from a drone, the microfliers use a Miura-ori origami fold to switch from tumbling and dispersing outward through the air to dropping straight to the ground. Watch this video to see the researchers control the timing of each device’s transition and the few methods they used.

“Using origami opens up a new design space for microfliers,” said co-senior author Vikram Iyer , UW assistant professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.