Robots that are able to do things all by themselves are nothing new. DARPA has been pushing for robots that can autonomously operate in all sorts of environments. A group of researchers from Harvard and MIT have been working together to develop a new small robot that is able to assemble itself and walk away without human help.
The robot starts out as a flat sheet of paper and polystyrene plastic that has been etched with hinges. Along with that material is a flat and flexible circuit board, a pair of motors, a microcontroller, and two batteries.
The microcontroller activates the circuits that produce heat on command and that heat is required to fold the plastic to shape. Once done the little bot can amble off. Right now, the transformation process is triggered by connecting the battery. The team wants to make the bot smarter so it will transform in response to pressure or temperature changes.