Robodog uses magnetic ‘paws’ to CLIMB up walls and across ceilings


The fear of killer robots dominating human civilization is one step closer to reality with a new robotdog that climbs up walls and across ceilings.

Developed at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, the MARVEL quadrupedal robot features magnetic feet that magnetize and demagnetize on demand.

Switching between the two settings allows the robot to keep one foot attached to the wall or ceiling while releasing the other to the next spot.

It moves 1.6 feet per second while climbing up a wall and two feet per second when traveling across the ceiling.

MARVEL may seem more like the killer robodog in Black Mirror, but its inventors foresee the innovation helping repair bridges, industrial tanks and buildings.

The robodog, called MARVEL, can travel more than one-foot per second up a wall. It uses magnetic pads on its fit to stick to surfaces

The robodog, called MARVEL, can travel more than one-foot per second up a wall. It uses magnetic pads on its fit to stick to surfaces

‘It demonstrates the fastest vertical and inverted walking speed, whereas its versatile locomotion ability enables the highest number of gaits and locomotion tasks,’ researchers shared in the study published in ScienceRobotics

MARVEL (magnetically adhesive robot for versatile and expeditious locomotion) is designed like the typical robodog with four legs and a torso packed with electronics, but this one, in particular, has magnetics built into its feet.

The magnets are designed as a rubber, nonslippery footpad that sticks to surfaces while motors move the mammal-like legs. 

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The electromagnets can be turned on or off electronically and consist of a permanent magnet and a soft core that a surrounding coil can magnetize. 

According to Hackaday, activating and deactivating the magnets only requires a slight pulse of electricity. 

It weighs around 18 pounds and can carry up to six pounds of cargo on its back.

And it is capable of operating without a tether.

Researchers said MARVEL can travel across ceilings at two feet per second and is also able to walk backward down a wall. 

The team compares how the robot moves and switches between feet similar to a gecko climbing up a surface. 

‘These foot design features allowed the robot to apply large forces to the environments without detaching, slipping, or tipping over of the foot,’ reads the study. 

In experiments, MARVEL was capable of lugging four pounds up walls and seven pounds across a ceiling.

‘MARVEL’s potential application is to investigate industrial sites, such as steel-structured buildings, bridges, ships, or storage tanks,’ the study reads.

‘These sites inevitably involve tasks at high altitudes or confined spaces, such as the inspection of steel bridges or shipyard welding platforms, which could be dangerous for human workers.’ 

Researchers also tested MARVEL on an industrial tank made of steel with spots of thick pain to see how the robot would react.

MARVEL (magnetically adhesive robot for versatile and expeditious locomotion) is designed like the typical robodog with four legs and a torso packed with electronics

MARVEL (magnetically adhesive robot for versatile and expeditious locomotion) is designed like the typical robodog with four legs and a torso packed with electronics

MARVEL can also travel across ceilings, all which carrying up to six pounds of payload on its back

MARVEL can also travel across ceilings, all which carrying up to six pounds of payload on its back

The team compares how the robot moves and switches between feet similar to a gecko climbing up a surface

The team compares how the robot moves and switches between feet similar to a gecko climbing up a surface

Not only did MARVEL sidestep over the pain, but the tank’s surface was rough and curved, and the robodog’s ‘magnetic feet provided sufficient holding force without slipping.’

‘Using the passive compliant ankle, the foot could even adapt to curved steel substrates compliantly and without slipping or tipping over, as shown in the experiments conducted on the curved surface of the storage tank,’ researchers shared in the study. 

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