A folding robot weighing four grams that crawls and jumps

Researchers at EPFL have come up with a folding, reconfigurable robot that is capable of crawling and jumping. Modelled on the inchworm, it represents a new paradigm in robotics. The word robot generally conjures up images of a rigid structure and electronic motors. In Jamie Paik’s Reconfigurable Robotics Laboratory, however, the word takes on a whole new meaning. Researchers have thrown convention out the window by creating robots patterned on origami: flat, ultra-light and foldable. The most recent of these origami robots or “robogamis”, Tribot, has been unveiled at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS). Tribot’s gait pattern is modelled after inchworms, but what makes it unique is its gait mode: it can simultaneously switch between crawling and jumping, which means it can jump over obstacles and then resume moving forward. Tribot is two centimetres tall, weighs 4 grams and has a T-shaped structure with three legs. “This unusual robot can jump up to seven times its height, and it does not need to be reset between jumps,” said Paik.”