See the Terrifying New Robot That Can Pack Itself Flat And Turn Into Every Shape

A team of researchers have developed a flat robot that is completely modular.

By TeeJay Small | Updated

The shape-shifting T-1000 from Terminator 2

Frequent flyers rejoice, as a team of Swiss researchers have crafted a foldable flat robot, capable of rotating itself into nearly any shape one can imagine, fitting easily under any airplane seat or overhead cabin. The robot, whose design was inspired by the decorative flair of Japanese origami, is able to pack itself completely flat like a piece of Ikea furniture, according to a recent write-up in Futurism. With other recent developments in science and robotics leading to incredible advancements, such as liquid robots that can phase through metal bars like a T-1000, as well as a host of robotic enhancements courtesy of Boston Dynamics, many people are beginning to fear that science has gone too far.

The roboticist team who crafted the flat robot consists of researchers from Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, who set out to assist astronauts on board spacecraft. The machines, which have been dubbed the Mori3, will surely be a huge help with orbiting space cadets due to the cramped environments present on most satellites and space stations. As shown in a YouTube video showcasing the incredible folding abilities of the cyborg, the Mori3 can fold itself flat enough to easily stow away in tight spaces, and can also contort into a circular shape to quickly traverse any terrain like a tire.

The dexterous bots are able to fold and contort into various shapes by utilizing four flattened limbs, connected with a series of electrically powered ball joints and hinges, which allow for a highly liberal range of movement. The Swiss scientists evidently came to the conclusion that they could re-invent the wheel after studying the carefully folded triangular corners present in many origami sculptures, which supported the vision that the flat robot could reconfigure its shape by utilizing the unusual polygonal structure of its ergonomic design.

According to project director Jamie Paik, the flat robot can also be easily disassembled and reassembled to assist with specific tasks, functioning as a robotic LEGO set aboard the International Space Station or other similar environments. Paik and his team were forced to completely rethink the method with which they approached building the bot in order to avoid common pitfalls which arise when scientists attempt to create humanoid robots with lanky limbs which get in the way.

Ultron, an evil modular robot

According to Paik, the Mori3’s greatest strength is its versatility, though it may not be as helpful in highly specialized environments as the competition, such as Boston Dynamics‘ Spot, Stretch, and Scout robots, which are frequently highlighted in YouTube videos, sometimes even performing complex dance moves in a pure flex of the engineering team’s incredible capabilities. Despite the highly technical movement sets offered by these creations, the flat robot may still be preferable in some cases, simply due to its minimal storage requirements.

The rise of creations like the flat robot or artificial intelligence programs such as ChatGPT and the Dall-E Mini image processor have led many members of the general public to question whether robots will replace many positions in the general labor force. Of course, as Jamie Paik and his team have expressed, these developments have been rolled out in an effort to assist engineers and the public alike rather than replace them. Though the tech may seem incredibly scary, you can trust the word of Giant Freakin Robot for more updates of this variety.