08/08/2014 11:26 BST | Updated 08/08/2014 11:59 BST

First Real-Life 'Transformers' Robot Can Build Itself And Walk

Engineers at Harvard University have created a robot that can transform itself from being a flat object into a four-legged walking machine.

First reported by New Scientist, the robot uses the principles of origami to change its shape with predetermined folding lines creating legs and a body.

While the robot itself is impressive, the way it unfolds is even more so as it negates the need for any moving parts.

origami robot

Instead the engineers opted for a special memory plastic which can change shape when heated. To provide the heat they fitted the robot with a series of copper wires and then finally attached two tiny motors allowing the robot to move.

Transforming robots can become particularly useful in search and rescue situations allowing the robot to enter terrain that a machine with just one form might not be able to reach.

It's very early days and at present the robot can only stand and walk in a straight line however the engineers say that with the right programming it'll be able to move around at will.

One of their future hopes is to create a system which is entirely automated, allowing the robot to be fabricated at the source of the problem and then launching itself.