Little robots that can climb even inside living organisms, has ceased to be fiction. In October of 2018, scientists from Exeter University have created a mechanism that moves in liquids using magnetism-sensitive flagella. Tiny robots needed for repair of jet engines and other constituent parts of various machinery. In this case, the flagella can not do, so the researchers from Harvard University have invented tiny robots with magnetic feet.
They resemble insects and are based on previously created ambulatory micro-robots HAMR. Previous versions of the mechanisms could even walk on water, but the current modification HAMR-E is capable of more — climbing on vertical surfaces. It is noteworthy that the letter E in the name stands for electroadhesion — the ability of a robot to hold objects due to electrostatic attraction.
Static electricity is generated in the legs, made of copper electrodes with polyimide insulation. Before raising the leg, the robot turns off the power to the respective limb, and down — enables it. The end legs are made flexible so that the robot easier climbing curved surfaces.
Also, the developers have modified ankle joints — they rotate in three dimensions and allow robots to shift depending on the terrain. Developed a new gait, so that when lifting one leg, three others remained glued to the surface.
Test the robot successfully passed the test and made more than 100 steps on horizontal and vertical surfaces and never fell down. In the future the developers intend to improve the stickiness of legs on a wider range of surfaces. Also they need to work on my capacity to complete the work, it is important to equip them with sensors and a camera.
According to one of the founders of the HAMR-E Sebastian de Rivaz, by moving on horizontal and vertical surfaces, the robots are able to diagnose all failure mechanisms. They can be used to detect damage without opening the enclosure.