Three researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (a leading teaching and research university in South Korea, located in Daejeon, founded in 1971), together with a colleague from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (a public higher education institution in the United States, began its activities in 1867) designed and built a working four-legged robot with magnetized legs that could climb the walls and ceilings of metal buildings and structures.
In their Science Robotics article, Seungwoo Hong, Young Wum, Hae-Won Park, and Jaejoong Park explain its design and operation, and describe how it performs in real-life testing. In particular, it is noted that both magnetic elastomers and electromagnets are used in the robot. Together, they allow the robot’s legs to magnetize and demagnetize on demand. By turning magnetism on and off, the robot can cling to a vertical point on the wall with one foot and hold on while the other legs stick, and then release one foot at a time to take steps.
In the course of their work on this model of the robot, the researchers intended to create such a mechanism that could help a person in carrying out repair work in dangerous conditions for humans, on large metal structures, such as bridges, oil tanks, and some buildings and structures that pose a danger to humans. . The scientists were able to build a four-legged robot that could walk on a flat surface, approach a wall and walk straight along its side, like a spider, and then, if necessary, continue moving along the ceiling.
For their invention, they see quite a lot of ways to use it, and as technology develops, this range will only expand.
Flexible and versatile climbing on ferromagnetic surfaces with a four-legged robot is shown in the author’s final video, and its agile and versatile climbing is also explained.
The researchers also had to program the robot to climb first and then continue to move around or overcome obstacles. To do this, they built a model of a cat’s behavior when testing an obstacle to overcome — before moving forward, the cat takes tiny first steps with its front paws, and then movements of the hind legs are added.
Test results show that the robot is capable of climbing metal walls and walking on ceilings in their test lab. Further tests showed that the robot was even able to climb an old open bulk tank with rusty walls.