Feedback-controlled self-folding of autonomous robot collectives

Martin E.W. Nisser, Samuel M. Felton, Michael T. Tolley, Michael Rubenstein, Robert J. Wood

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

23 Scopus citations


Self-folding provides an efficient way of creating complex 3D geometries from 2D composites. However, the precision of self-folding structures is often limited by the use of open-loop folding mechanisms. In this paper we demonstrate feedback-controlled self-folding using a shape memory polymer and optical sensors to accurately control folding angles. We present a method of quickly and inexpensively fabricating large collectives of self-folding autonomous robots that can be transported in flat configurations prior to autonomous deployment at target destinations. To demonstrate this, we build a collective of robots that is manufactured in one continuous laminar composite. Individual robots in the collective detach from one other, self-fold into pre-programmed configurations and navigate by phototaxis. This method could be applied to a broad range of applications where logistics necessitate compact transport and where external manipulation is difficult or expensive, such as in space applications or delivering searchandrescue robots in cluttered environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIROS 2016 - 2016 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781509037629
StatePublished - Nov 28 2016
Event2016 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS 2016 - Daejeon, Korea, Republic of
Duration: Oct 9 2016Oct 14 2016

Publication series

NameIEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems
ISSN (Print)2153-0858
ISSN (Electronic)2153-0866


Other2016 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, IROS 2016
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Software
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications


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