Inverted and vertical climbing of a quadrupedal microrobot using electroadhesion

The ability to climb greatly increases the reachable workspace of terrestrial robots, improving their utility for inspection and exploration tasks. This is particularly desirable for small (millimeter-scale) legged robots operating in confined environments. This paper presents a 1.48-gram and 4.5-centimeter-long tethered quadrupedal microrobot, the Harvard Ambulatory MicroRobot with Electroadhesion (HAMR-E). The design of HAMR-E enables precise leg motions and voltage-controlled electroadhesion for repeatable and reliable climbing of inverted and vertical surfaces. The innovations that enable this behavior are an integrated leg structure with electroadhesive pads and passive alignment ankles and a parametric tripedal crawling gait. At a relatively low adhesion voltage of 250 volts, HAMR-E achieves speeds up to 1.2 (4.6) millimeters per second and can ambulate for a maximum of 215 (162) steps during vertical (inverted) locomotion. Furthermore, HAMR-E still retains the ability for high-speed locomotion at 140 millimeters per second on horizontal surfaces. As a demonstration of its potential for industrial applications, such as in situ inspection of high-value assets, we show that HAMR-E is capable of achieving open-loop, inverted locomotion inside a curved portion of a commercial jet engine.

Source: Sciencemag.org – Science Robotics Latest Content

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