Pentagon Unleashes 'Transformer'

'Origami bot' first step in shape-shifting warfare

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 1, 2010 2:52 AM CDT | Updated Jul 1, 2010 5:39 AM CDT
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(Newser) – Pentagon designers working mightily to create their own brand of "Transformers"—vehicle-warriors that can morph from robot to boat or plane—have unveiled an origami-like model of a small, thin sheet of metal that can change itself itno a rudimentary boat shape to something resembling a paper airplane. OK, so it doesn't really look much like the movie Transformers—yet. But the small sheet boasts a number of revolutionary tiles and elastomer joints that will be crucial to creating shape shifters of the future. The project also incorporates cutting edge algorithms that the morphing contraption needs to get itself from Point A to B or D when commanded to change.

It’s “a first step toward making everyday objects whose mechanical properties can be programmed," explained a Harvard researcher involved in the project. Pentagon designers hope that the work will one day make possible morphing vehicles to mutating uniforms to needed spare parts, notes Wired. It's possible that a soldier of the future may only need a can filled with shape-shifting particles of varying sizes to create whatever's needed on the spot.

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