Robots Get Flexible and Torqued Up With Origami Wheels

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Origami, the art of folding pieces of paper to create shapes, is an appealing concept for robotics because you can transform two dimensional materials into three dimensional structures that are inherently flexible. What's more, structures that fold and unfold enable all kinds of interesting functionality that would otherwise only be possible with systems that are much more complex.


The approach can be particularly useful in designing wheels for robots. Korean researchers have designed a clever robotic wheel based on one of the most famous origami patterns, the magic ball pattern. 


The wheel they created can change its radius by deforming its shape. This is a useful trick to be able to perform, since a wheel with a large radius is better at climbing over things, while a wheel with a smaller radius is better at squeezing under things.




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