At this point I think there are more origami jumping robots than there are grasshoppers on Earth. This latest iteration, called the Tribot, uses shape memory alloy to crawl along surfaces like an inchworm and, with a little pop, jump like a grasshopper. The alloy changes shape when electricity flows through it resulting in funny little movements.
The robot can “jump up to seven times its height” and doesn’t need to rest between jumps, said researcher Jamie Paik at the Reconfigurable Robotics Laboratory at EPFL.
Why is this little robot important? Because it is essentially disposable yet can do all sorts of exciting things. Like the original origami robot, this little guy could be sent out into the world to collect data and samples and then come back – or simply die in the wild.
“We gave the robot numerous actuators, each of which is insulated from the others,” said co-author Zhenishbek Zhakypov. “By activating the actuators successively, the robot begins to crawl. The jumping mode depends on springs that are also made out of SMA.”