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Weird Science: Robot Lamps


You ever look at the lamp next to your bedside table and think, “Man, what a lazy git. Wish you did, I don’t know, something else.” Lament no more, lamp owners! Some Harvard brainiacs at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed this 3D-printed robotic lamp that self-assembles, triggered by heat.

Starting out as a flat sheet of copper, paper, foam, shape-memory polymers (these are the things that respond to the temperature change), and a comparatively excessive amount of wires, the 2D shape gradually forms itself into a box in a magical transformation that, for whatever reason, reminds me of that orange donkey from Gumby.

While the building of the lamp is taken care of, the operation of the whole light on/light off thing is still on you. And as it stands, in terms of size and effectiveness, there’s a lot to be desired, but still, really, it’s pretty remarkable. In terms of future possibilities, the research team described it as such: The self-assembling lamp demonstrates the potential for the rapid and inexpensive production of self-folding machines that can interact with the environment. It showed that even complex mechanisms, such as the mechanical switch, can be integrated into the self-folding process of a larger machine, and utilized in practical electronic circuits.

IKEA might want to look into patenting this.