It seems that a bunch of scientists over at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms has managed to come up with a new generation robot which could prove to be a precursor to the fantasy organic robotic lifeforms that we have all come to know and love as the Transformers. Toy robots that were able to fold itself into different configurations are not rare at all, but actual robots which are able to do so? Well, lab director Neil Gershenfeld, visiting scientist Ara Knaian, and graduate student Kenneth Cheung, have come up with what they call the Milli-Motein, a reconfigurable robot which has been specially programmed to fold itself into a number of different shapes.
Once the robot shifted into a new shape, it is capable of retaining that particular shape, even though there is no more power supply. This is made possible thanks to an electro-permanent motor. According to Gershenfeld, “[The Milli-Motein is] effectively a one-dimensional robot that can be made in a continuous strip, without conventionally moving parts, and then folded into arbitrary shapes.”
It will still take a long time, even if a Transformers-like robot were to be possible, to arrive. I guess we will have to make do at the moment with the Milli-Motein.