Researchers have developed a quadruped robot dog with magnetic “paws” that let it climb up walls and across ceilings. The new invention could be useful in repairing or inspecting industrial environments and construction projects that could prove potentially dangerous for humans.
The science and other stuff to know
Dubbed MARVEL (Magnetically Adhesive Robot for Versatile and Expeditious Locomotion), the quadruped robot dog is the work of researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. It features magnetic ‘paws’ that magnetize and demagnetize on demand.
MARVEL is able to climb metal walls and ceilings due to magnetorheological elastomers (MREs) on the feet of its four legs. The MREs can conduct electromagnetic force, allowing the robot dog to go up walls and across ceilings.
Detailing the feats of MARVEL in a paper in Science Robotics, its developers claim the robot dog can walk at a speed of 1.6 feet per second while climbing up a wall and two feet per second when scaling across the ceiling. It weighs around 8 kilograms (18 pounds) and can carry 2-3 kilograms (6 pounds) of cargo on its back. It’s even capable of operating without a tether.
According to the researcher, MARVEL could have a wide range of applications such as “scenarios within industrial environments” that could otherwise put humans at serious risk.
“Numerous industrial operations (such as inspections of storage tanks, bridges, and shipyards) are carried out in ferromagnetic environments that contain gaps, protuberances, corners, walls, and ceilings,” the team writes in their study. “In many cases, these operating environments are difficult and even dangerous for human operators to directly access. Legged robots could potentially perform various maneuvers in such confined and complex three-dimensional (3D) environments.”
MARVEL isn’t the first robot that can climb walls. However, unlike most others, it makes use of magnetic legs rather than wheels, grippers, suction cups, or propellers.