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You’ve probably seen origami “robots” before: flat sheets of metal or plastic that fold into bots that can walk, climb, and even swim. They’re not of much practical use right now, but they represent a promising path for robot development. (We’ve even made them out of meat so they can work inside the body.) Now, in a bid to augment the bots’ abilities, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have come up with a new tool for them: origami exoskeletons.

In a paper published today, researchers describe four exoskeletons, each made out of a plastic sheet that folds into a predefined shape when heated for a few seconds. There’s a boat-shaped exoskeleton and a glider: one for “walking,” and another…

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