'Turning a Piece of Paper into a Robot' This is an engineering research project aimed at exploring the subfield of physical structure robots: micro origami robots. By borrowing from bionics, the project introduces the principle of quadrupedal animal movement into the study of origami robots. By designing innovative folding linkage structures and robot power modules, the project has achieved the ability to give a 210mm x 210mm square paper full-directional freedom of movement. Research in the field of micro origami robots has significant implications for cutting-edge science. The folding mechanical structure has unparalleled advantages in efficient linkage, low cost, and space storage. Top research institutions such as the Harvard GSD, the MIT Tangible Media Lab, and the Self-Assembly Lab all have project teams dedicated to the development of this field, and NASA has also made origami structures one of its important topics for space exploration. The folding robot structure and the linkage relationship between the power core and folding structure in this project are highly innovative, contributing our discoveries and bringing valuable experience to this research field. At the same time, the interdisciplinary fusion of origami art, bionics, and mechanical engineering exploration gives paper a sense of life, bringing more possibilities to mechanical structure robots in an extremely low-cost and sustainable context. The robot has the ability to execute full freedom of movement with extremely high mechanical efficiency, providing more opportunities for the application and transformation of folding mechanical structures, and offering more likely possibilities for cross-disciplinary integration in the field of mechanical robots.
Origami structure, flat to three-dimensional
exploded view diagram
Motion module and installation effect
Robot locomotion principle
Robot Structure Analysis: This project explores a new form of origami robot, which ingeniously uses the collaborative relationship between the folding linkage structure and the motion core. By using complex structural calculations abstracted from flat folds, a 210mm x 210mm square paper can quickly complete flat-to-standing transformation, and the resulting 3D structure has rich linkage effects and potential for movement. The central motion module uses a cross-linked rod design, coordinated by a Nano control board to achieve the cooperative function of two motors. When the robot moves forward, the longitudinal rods enter a forward mode, changing their position to cause deformation in the folding structure, which in turn causes differences in the robot's front and rear step lengths during subsequent movements. At this time, the transverse rods move back and forth to create a walking gait for the robot, providing forward power. Through the internal structural design of the motion module and the calculation and coordinated control of motor angles, the transverse and longitudinal power sources can switch with the same effect, achieving flexible full-degree-of-freedom motion. The robot ingeniously utilizes the linkage effects unique to the folding structure, innovatively completing the switch between forward and backward by switching the state of the folding structure, and achieving free switching of transverse and longitudinal motion by switching the function of the power module linkage. The folding structure design and power module design are significantly different from the existing design logic in this field.
Project Contribution - Differences from Similar Research: Top research centers such as the Harvard Microrobotics Lab, the MIT Tangible Media Lab, and the Self-assembly Lab have dedicated project teams to the development of micro robots based on folding structures. Many cutting-edge research achievements have been made in this field, mainly divided into research-oriented (exploring new motion structures) and application-oriented (transforming existing structures to solve specific needs), and this project belongs to the former. Research-oriented structural exploration is extremely important for creating practical value in this field. As can be seen from the reference literature attached, the previous motion-type folding robot structures all required complex pre-processing of the paper, and the motion units were scattered and distributed, requiring complex installation. Undoubtedly, these research explorations have brought rich configuration results to this field, but such projects focus more on the development of folding structures and ignore the relationship between motion sources and structures. However, this robot is different from the above, achieving one-step forming of the folding structure without pre-processing, while the power unit is highly integrated, minimizing installation costs as much as possible. The design logic, paper linkage structure design, and integrated power module design are all innovative points of this project.
Prototype Testing: As shown in the video, the prototype testing verified the validity of the theoretical research and basically achieved the proposed walking effect in the study. The project attempted various types of paper and discovered a normal distribution of paper thickness and motion stability, with an optimal paper thickness. Structural issues such as the rationality of the power module structure were also verified.
Bionics: From the perspective of this project, micro origami robots have a very close relationship with bionics. The structure of this robot is inspired by common quadruped animals. Taking canines as an example, there are obvious differences in the type of walking gait at different walking speeds. From a slow walk to a high-speed run, the coordination relationship between the four limbs will change accordingly. This gait change has inspired the movement of the origami robot with a full linkage structure. In the final robot design, the principle of movement and direction change are both inspired by this.
Origami Art - From Art to Special Engineering: Origami has its inherent charm, crossing the boundaries of art and engineering, attracting countless scholars in both fields. As an interdisciplinary subject, design attempts to look at the significance of this research project from a unique perspective - inspired by bionics, realized by engineering research, and endowed with innovative perspectives and vitality by art for robots. In the field of engineering, origami structures have irreplaceable significance in mechanical linkage and spatial storage. The creases, as natural active joints, exhibit complex and efficient linkage effects when multiple creases are combined in specific relationships. The characteristics of low quality, large surface area, and significant volume reduction of origami structures also provide many opportunities for fields with strict requirements for volume, weight, etc., such as space exploration. In addition, the state switching of its appearance structure also provides more possibilities for special tasks. In the field of origami art, countless artists are committed to transforming a complete, flat paper into various rich shapes. The vision of this robot to transform from a complete paper to a three-dimensional robot in one step is inspired by this. The pursuit of art is the human yearning, and "giving life to a piece of paper" is the goal pursued by this project.
Project significance - Design radiation: In summary, this is a research-based project using desktop motion robots as carriers, aiming to bring more research results to the field of micro-folding robots and develop a folding robot structure with the physical goal of omnidirectional movement. The project has proven to achieve visible results.