The Pentagon reveals its very first transformer

Nic Cackett

Researchers working for the Pentagon have revealed their first tentative step in a programme to make shape-shifting robots a reality.

At the moment the tiny machine is just a thin sheet of tiles, flexible electronics and actuators capable of folding itself into a boat or paper plane, but in the future the technology could be used to produce cars and aircraft capable of morphing themselves into different shapes.

The project was launched in 2007 by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency in conjunction with Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The robot changes form when a specific set of actuators are triggered in a sequence.

Click below to see how it works.