Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from Kristina Grifantini

Robotic "Spiderman" Device Unveiled

A new grappling hook could let robots swing from tree to tree.

  • July 14, 2009

Today, at the International Conference on Field and Service Robotics here in Cambridge, MA, robotics professor and prolific inventor Shigeo Hirose, from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, presented a grappling-hook system designed to help robots get over difficult terrain.

Hirose says that he was inspired by Batman’s grappling hook and the way that Spiderman stays in constant motion using a repetitive tether-and-swing action.

After modeling several different designs, Hirose settled on a pneumatic hook with a controlled launching winch and a braking spool to avoid tangling the rope. Once launched, the hook rotates because of its center of gravity and grips whatever’s beneath it.

Hirose has tested prototypes on the wheeled Helios-VI robot and plans to let a robot use two or three of the grappling systems to work its way up over rough terrain by continually launching. Take a look at the clip below for the latest version of Hirose’s grappling hook.

During the conference lunch, I caught up with Hirose. He was one of the first researchers to develop a robot modeled on a snake back in the 1970s. This design has since inspired surgical snake-like robots and search-and-rescue snake robots that other groups are developing today. Hirose told me he expects that such robots will be used in the field within three years. He also gave the afternoon’s plenary talk on his menagerie of walking, slithering, and climbing robots and on plans for implementing these robots in military, rescue, construction, and space settings.

Keep up with the latest in robotics at EmTech MIT.
Discover where tech, business, and culture converge.

September 11-14, 2018
MIT Media Lab

Register now
More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.