Mini Reconfigurable Robots Powered by New Kind of Motor

Researchers at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms have created a little device called a milli-motein - the name combines its millimeter-sized components and a motorized design inspired by proteins, which naturally fold themselves into complex shapes. The minuscule robot could lead to future devices that can fold themselves up into almost any shape imaginable. To build this tiny robot, the team had to invent a new kind of motor: small and strong, and able to hold its position firmly even with power switched off. They met these needs with a new system called an electropermanent motor. It involves two magnets designed so that their fields either add or cancel, depending on which way the switchable field points. The team is looking to expand their motor into aerospace and medical applications.