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Programmable matter

July 24, 2010

Flexibility and Simplicity

Imagine making almost anything from a single piece of sheet?

Researchers at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology made a breakthrough for making matters with a single piece of sheet. The leading scientist is Robert Wood, associate professor at electrical engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

They used a thin composite of rigid tiles and elastomer joints.  It also contains 25 soft actuators to drive the folding process. By properly turning on/off the actuators, the thin tiles can be folded in theory to almost any shapes, from a cup, to a table, to a robot (what they call soft robotics).

Currently, they have demonstrated folding a boat and plane.

Courtesy of Harvard University and Dr. Robert Wood

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2010 4:38 pm

    This is part of a research field called Self-Reconfiguring Modular Robots, and you can find much more information at the wiki page

    If you check out my youtub page ( ) and the featured video you will find an excellent presentation by Todd Mowry that is mentioned in the post that shows that they have made great progress and have shrunk the units to a 4×1 mm cylinder (Pario: the Next Step Beyond Audio and Video)

    And If I may shamelessly plug my blog that focuses entirely on the area 🙂 you can find it here


  2. July 24, 2010 9:58 pm

    Thanks Per Sjöborg for your excellent resources. We will watch the research and engineering progress of flexibilityenvelope more closely.

  3. August 23, 2010 11:05 pm

    Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.

  4. September 20, 2011 3:18 am

    This really is superb post ! I just love’d this !

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