Last Thursday, MIT released two staggeringly cool videos. And I don't think I'm being hyperbolic in saying that. Above we have a robotic cheetah that's "trained" to "see and jump over hurdles as it runs — making this the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously." The cheetah knows when to jump by using LIDAR — "a visual system that uses reflections from a laser to map terrain." MIT News has more on the tech behind this creation.
Making almost equally big news is another MIT invention -- a miniature origami robot that self-folds, walks, swims, and degrades. As the electrical engineering website IEEE Spectrum explains:
The unfolded robot, which is made of a magnet and PVC sandwiched between laser-cut structural layers (polystyrene or paper), weighs just 0.31 g and measures 1.7 cm on a side. Once placed on a heating element, the PVC contracts, and where the structural layers have been cut, it creates folds....
Once you’re done messing around, you can drive the robot into a tank of acetone and it will entirely dissolve.
One day, if things go according to plan, these creatures will become small enough to perform important medical tasks within your body, and then when they're done, poof, they'll be gone. And you'll have an MIT researcher partly to thank.
Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.