Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }


The insect-inspired robot shown in this video, called Abigaille-I, can potentially walk on the ceiling. The robot was developed by researchers at the Simon Fraser University, in BC, Canada, and the European Space Agency.

The researchers designed Abigaille-I to maximize use of dry adhesion (employed by geckos and some insects) and enlisted microfabrication techniques to make very small fibers that create enough grip to let the robot stick to surfaces. The adhesive material consists of 20-to-60-micrometer-tall fibers–the source of Abigaille-I’s sticking power. The video also shows a computer model of the next robot. It has six legs (each with six degrees of freedom) and 18 actively controlled joints.

Carlo Menon, a professor of engineering science at Simon Fraser, demonstrated the work at the 2008 BioRob Conference, showing that the robot can hang upside down.

Like a real spider, Abigaille-I peels a foot from a surface by moving its leg outward, so that the heel lifts before the front of the foot, without sliding. Its feet also rotate in three directions using ankle joints, allowing it to adapt to uneven surfaces.

To give the robot feedback on the position of its legs, the researchers use relatively cheap and lightweight sensors that detect a magnetic field. By placing magnets on the limbs below the joints, the sensors will detect the orientation of each leg as it moves. Menon told me that he and his team plan to test the spider-inspired climbing robot on a simulated Mars environment at the beginning of 2010.

2 comments. Share your thoughts »

Tagged: Materials, robots, space, nanoglue

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me