Programmable Matter Shows Early Signs of Transformer Apocalypse

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The end is near, my friends. A handful of geniuses at Harvard and MIT have developed programmable matter based on origami principles.

According to the press release:

“Called programmable matter by folding, the team demonstrated how a single thin sheet composed of interconnected triangular sections could transform itself into a boat- or plane-shape—all without the help of skilled fingers…

While the Harvard and MIT engineers only demonstrated two simple shapes, the proof of concept holds promise. The long-term aim is to make programmable matter more robust and practical, leading to materials that can perform multiple tasks, such as an entire dining utensil set derived from one piece of foldable material.”

The sheet is “a thin composite of rigid tiles and elastomer joints” controlled by programmable actuators that can be triggered in sequence to initiate the appropriate creases so as to create the desired folded shape.

Here’s video:

[brightcove vid=104621764001&exp3=1813626064&surl=]

According to Wired, the DARPA-backed project could “eventually lead to everything from morphing aircraft to self-styling uniforms to a ‘universal spare part’,” where a soldier could shape the material into various tools as needed.

Then a few years after that, we’ll undoubtedly develop shape shifting material that changes and morphs on its own without any human intervention. One day it’ll shift into something we don’t want, like a row of spikes behind your car or an aggressive Max Headroom that goes around biting people. We won’t be able to kill it because it’ll keep morphing and before you know it, boom, we’re all powerless thanks to origami. Nobody ever suspects origami.

(More on Techland: More Than Meets the Eye: Transformers: War for Cybertron Review)