Wall-Climbing Robots Use SRI International’s Electroadhesion Technology

SRI International, an independent nonprofit research and development organization, today announced that it has developed and demonstrated robust wall-climbing robots using a new electrical adhesive technology called compliant electroadhesion. SRI Senior Mechanical Engineer Harsha Prahlad, Ph.D. will provide an overview of SRI’s electroadhesion technology at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), May 23, 2008 at the Pasadena Conference Center in Pasadena, Calif.Electroadhesion is an electrically controllable adhesion technology that is being applied to wall-climbing robots for the first time. It involves inducing electrostatic charges on a wall surface using a power supply connected to compliant pads placed on the moving robot. Unlike conventional or dry adhesives, the electroadhesion can be turned off for mobility or cleaning. This robotic technology uses a small amount of power and has the ability to repeatedly clamp to wall surfaces covered in dust or debris. Using this technology, SRI has demonstrated a variety of wall-climbing robots, including robots with feet and tracks.

“Recent events such as natural disasters, military actions, and public safety threats have led to an increased need for robust robots-especially ones that can move in three dimensions,” said Dr. Prahlad. “The ability to climb walls and other structures offers unique capabilities in military applications, such as urban reconnaissance, sensor deployment, and installation of network nodes in an urban environment. SRI is proud to have developed electroadhesive robots that can help with these situations.”

Electroadhesive robots perform well on a wide variety of materials, including surfaces such as concrete, wood, steel, glass, drywall, and brick. Electroadhesion, or electrically controlled electrostatic attraction, offers a low energy cost when in motion, quiet operation, and a simple, lightweight structure. SRI’s electroadhesive robots also have the ability to conform to surface shapes such as bumps, corners, or cracks. These types of robots can also clamp to dusty or damp surfaces.

Electroadhesion lends itself to a variety of wall-climbing robots, including tracked “tank” style wall-climbing robots, as well as more biomimetic-inspired, legged and inchworm-type robots, all of which have been successfully demonstrated using this type of technology.

Go to www.sri.com/rd/electroadhesion.html for more information about SRI’s wall-climbing robots. For more information about the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) visit http://icra2008.usc.edu/

About SRI International

Silicon Valley-based SRI International is one of the world’s leading independent research and technology development organizations. Founded as Stanford Research Institute in 1946, SRI has been meeting the strategic needs of clients and partners for more than 60 years. The nonprofit research institute performs client-sponsored research and development for government agencies, businesses, and foundations. In addition to conducting contract R&D, SRI licenses its technologies, forms strategic partnerships, and creates spin-off companies.

Reference: sri.com