The Japanese art of paper folding may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you consider advancements in robotic design but Origami is something that scientists in Switzerland are putting at the centre of their research into automated machines.

Robotics engineers at the EPFL, Ecole polytechnique fédérale Lausanne or the NCCR, the Switzerland National Centers of Competence in Research have created Mori, a robot comprised of other triangular bots that get together to shape-shift depending on the proposed application. Every individual robot integrates an actuator, numerous sensors and an onboard controller.

“The idea behind modular and shape-changing robots is to create systems that can adapt to all sorts of environments and applications,” Christopher Belke a member of EPFL’s Reconfigurable Robotics Lab, told Digital Trends.

“We want to be able to have a robot that, whatever you need it to do, can reconfigure into the appropriate shape and tool in order to accomplish the task. In this respect, our robot Mori has distinct advantages over other systems thanks to our fusion of origami and modular robots. It is easy to transport, can deploy into large, thin-walled structures, and reconfigure by folding a large number of degrees-of-freedom, making the potential applications of our robot endless.”

Belke added that such applications can be home-based systems, such as a table that could change shape according to what is placed upon it.  It could also be used to re-mould its host to look and act like a human body parts, which could be useful for treating major trauma or injuries.

Because the system is completely scalable, it is also possible to consider its use as a space-age tool, creating reconfigurable capsules and repairing damage to existing structures by re-creating their original shapes and forms.

According to Belke, it’s just the start of modular robots. This technology could change the world.