Not everyone has the time or money to build their own robot from scratch, which is why Ankur Mehta hopes to make robotics a little more accessible to the public by taking a cue from the Japanese art of origami. “People who are not engineers should be just as comfortable with creating and using robots as they are interacting with cellphones and smart devices,” he told Popular Science.
His robot, which he designed as a postdoctoral fellow at MIT, can be made by printing out a template on cardstock and folding it around some cheap electronic equipment. The machine uses an affordable but durable onboard sensing and navigation system to roll and maneuver around obstacles. The design received first place in multiple categories at last year’s “Ultra-Affordable Robot” competition, and the simplest version takes just $20 and five steps to assemble.
In addition to three sheets of cardstock, you’ll need some slightly less common materials like continuous-rotation servos, a daughter board, and an Arduino Pro Mini. The DIY project requires a bit of tech knowledge, but if you're a robot enthusiast with some extra cash and an afternoon to spare, there's nothing stopping you from making an origami robot at home. For detailed step-by-step instructions on how to assemble their version of the design, head over to Popular Science.