A new micro-machine created by scientists from MIT and TU Munich is able to self-assemble, walk on various surfaces, swim, carry items, and climb slopes. The machine weighs just 0.31 g and 1.6 cm on a side, is made of PVC and tiny magnets, and can even be dissolved in acetone.

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The self-assembly and propulsion are accomplished in clever ways. A PVC sheet is laser cut with structural layers that cause the sheet to fold around its tiny magnet in just a few minute’s time when placed on a heating element. Movement is achieved by pulsing electromagnetic coils placed near the machine to stimulate its magnet.

“An Untethered Miniature Origami Robot That Self-folds, Walks, Swims, and Degrades” has been in development since 2012 and was debuted recently at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Seattle, USA.

More info: ieee.org (h/t: laughingsquid)