In the robotics community, there is considerable interest in mobile robots that can climb and perch on a wide variety of building surfaces. Both climbing and perching robots can be useful for sensor placement and long-term surveillance. The key is the design of controllable attachment mechanisms that can easily turn the adhesion on and off to allow the robot to move on the surface. There have been numerous solutions for climbing specific wall types (e.g. electromagnets for ferromagnetic walls); however, these robots have limited usefulness as they tend to be too specialized. Instead, the Robotics Lab@IIT has developed controllable adhesives that can be applied to multiple different surface materials with varying roughness. The adhesives are composed of gecko-like fibrillar stalks with an electrostatic adhesive backing. The two technologies work well in combination, often providing an adhesion pressure that is greater than the sum of its parts. This talk will discuss the bioinspired design process that lead to this design and provide examples of robots and grippers that use the technology.
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