Biomimetic soft robotic crawlers have attracted extensive attention in various engineering fields, owing to their adaptivity to different terrains. Earthworm-like crawlers realize locomotion through in-plane contraction, while inchworm-like crawlers exhibit out-of-plane bending-based motions. Although in-plane contraction crawlers demonstrate effective motion in confined spaces, miniaturization is challenging because of limited actuation methods and complex structures. Here, we report a magnetically actuated small-scale origami crawler with in-plane contraction. The contraction mechanism is achieved through a four-unit Kresling origami assembly consisting of two Kresling dipoles with two-level symmetry. Magnetic actuation is used to provide appropriate torque distribution, enabling a small-scale and untethered robot with both crawling and steering capabilities. The crawler can overcome large resistances from severely confined spaces by its anisotropic and magnetically tunable structural stiffness. The multifunctionality of the crawler is explored by using the internal cavity of the crawler for drug storage and release. The magnetic origami crawler can potentially serve as a minimally invasive device for biomedical applications.
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