Category Archives: Inventors and Inventions

Origami robots build themselves and walk away

I heard about this on NPR today, too. Way cool. Sorry for the short post tonight, more tomorrow. Enjoy the ridiculously awesome origami robots.

Gigaom

Origami is a complex art, but when it comes to robots, it could actually make things simpler. A team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering created paper robots that, when heated, fold from a flat form into complex shapes that can walk and turn.

The robots are made from paper, plastic and electronic components. Networks of circuits deliver heat created by a battery to the areas of the robot that need to fold. The plastic, which was made to transform into a preset shape when exposed to temperatures higher than 212 degrees Fahrenheit, then begins its transformation. The robots created at Harvard took about four minutes to turn into their final 3D shape.

An origami robot transforming from flat to 3D. Photo courtesy of Seth Kroll, Wyss Institute. An origami robot transforming from flat to 3D. Photo courtesy of Seth Kroll, Wyss Institute.

Origami robots are more than a totally rad party trick (people do origami at parties, right?). They fall into a…

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Young Inventors FTW! Helping Shed Light in Disaster Zones.

Special thanks to my sister for pointing out these creative ladies and their amazing invention for today’s blog post (my 50th post already!).  They were featured on one of my favorite websites, A Might Girl, and made national news and several ‘recommended gear’ lists with their extraordinary device.  LuminAID was developed to assist rescuers and victims in the wake of disasters and has since found even more good uses.

Sometimes the simplest solution is the most elegant and useful.  That’s particularly true of the LuminAID.  One of the biggest challenges in a disaster zone is being able to see in the dark – rescuers need light to find those who need help, and people without electricity despair in the dark.  Batteries are expensive, and hand-crank lights are cumbersome.  The LuminAID is one of those wonderful inventions that make us go, “Now why didn’t I think of that?!” when some brilliant soul solves a difficult problem with a solution that is realistic, effective and – rarest of all – affordable.

Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta were assigned a class project while in grad school to develop something that would help in a disaster zone, shortly after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti.  They carefully listened to what aid workers said were some of the most pressing and overlooked needs, and decided to develop a reliable, portable, lightweight light source to fulfill a critical need.  The result was the LuminAID:

Just a couple smart, driven people really can make a huge difference in the world.  Through their Give Light, Get Light initiative, thousands of these lights have been sent to areas and individuals in need all over the planet.  Imagine what else a young person in your life could accomplish in the future with a little STEM education under her belt…

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Filed under Inventors and Inventions, Role Models