robot uses electro-adhesion to climb walls

wall climbing robot

from popular mechanics:

“Ever rub a balloon and stick it to a wall? If only larger objects could defy gravity the same way.

Later this week, researchers from the non-profit group SRI International will unveil the design of a wall-climbing robot at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Pasadena, Calif. It can clamber up all common building materials, the scientists told Popular Mechanics—and proved it to us with this video:


The as-yet-unnamed robot uses electro-adhesion to cling to the wall, generating electrostatic charges between the wall substrate and itself to keep from falling. “The principle of operation is similar to electrostatic chucks used to hold silicon wafers, or other specialized grippers for robotic handling of materials,” senior researcher Harsha Prahlad explained to PM in an email last week. “The technology uses a very small amount of power … and shows the ability to repeatedly clamp to wall substrates that are heavily covered in dust or other debris.”

SRI has tested a variety of Spider-Man-style bots with tracks and legs, but the charge method could turn a new leaf if buyers line up. Applications could include military and law enforcement surveillance sensors, inspection droids, building maintenance robots … and toys capable of scaring your little sister into psychotherapy. —Joe Pappalardo”