Yes, you read that correctly. I think sometimes the people at M.I.T. are creating things that, if you were to ask anyone on the street if that was real or not, most people would say it is a work of fiction. This is why the people of M.I.T. go to M.I.T. because they are smart enough to come up with those ideas and bring them to life.
In a new project between M.I.T., Hardvard, and University of Pennsylvania, researchers were able to create printed circuits that, once attached to an arduino, were able to self-fold with control from the board. The heat mechanism of the self-folding circuits is what helps the printed circuits to fold into their proper parts. In a previous attempt, researchers were able to create a printable circuit inchworm that actually crawled.
The idea behind such a creation is to help create low-cost applications of robots before constructions of real ones. The use of printable circuits also shows that flexible design can used for all sorts of other devices. In the movie Ultraviolet, the main actress is seen going to a vending machine that prints out, foldable circuit paper, a phone that can only be used with a certain number of minutes on it and then torn up and thrown away [to be recycled].
After creating the inchworm they worked on another project to see if they could create a self-folding lamp. As you watch the video you will noticed, like the first one, that it takes time for the circuits to fold into one another and that it is not a quick process that most people would expect. This is important to understand because it means that these are not products made for commercial use because many users of such a product would like to be able to work at a steady pace if they were to print their own projects. In the video below you can see the self-folding lamp in action.
These kinds of projects that come out of M.I.T. show that progress in the advancement of robotics and science are merging at a fast rate with many applications to follow afterwards. Once an idea is put out there to share with the world, you get a lot of feedback from those D.I.Y. individuals. They see new ideas to add to such a project and by taking in that feedback or sharing with them the printable circuit designs to print at home then progress can advance even further.