Spiderman would need really big palms

Electroadhesion Robots

As the name implies, electroadhesion is an electrically controllable adhesion technology. It involves inducing electrostatic charges on a wall substrate using a power supply connected to compliant pads situated on the moving robot. SRI has demonstrated robust clamping to common building materials including glass, wood, metal, concrete, etc. with clamping pressures in the range of 0.5 to 1.5 N per square cm of clamp (0.8 to 2.3 pounds per square inch). The technology works on conductive and non-conductive substrates, smooth or rough materials, and through dust and debris. Unlike conventional adhesives or dry adhesives, the electroadhesion can be modulated or turned off for mobility or cleaning. The technology uses a very small amount of power (on the order of 20 microwatts/Newton weight held) and shows the ability to repeatably clamp to wall substrates that are heavily covered in dust or other debris.

This is way cool (especially the part about being able to cling to nonsmooth surfaces) and the limitations make it even more fascinating. They’re claiming a force of about 1-2 psi, so with a simpleminded coefficient of friction that means supporting 200 pounds of geared-up infiltrator would require 100-200 square inches of electropad on the wall at all times. Add another 50% so that you can move an arm or a leg without sliding down to the ground, and you’re talking 150-300 square inches. The low end would be four pads each about the size of half a sheet of typing paper.

Maybe you could just make a coverall out of the stuff and shimmy your way up.


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