For years, researchers at MIT and Harvard University have been working on origami robots — reconfigurable machines that can fold themselves into arbitrary shapes.
In Science, they report their latest milestone, which is a robot made almost entirely from parts produced by a laser cutter that folds itself up and crawls away as soon as batteries are attached to it.
The robot is built from five layers of materials, all cut according to digital specifications by a laser cutter. The middle layer is copper, etched into an intricate network of electrical leads. It's sandwiched between two structural layers of paper; the outer layers are composed of a shape-memory polymer that folds when heated.