Quadruped robot capable of climbing walls: it’s called MARVEL

We are ascertaining how robots have now assumed such a fundamental role that they now also have the "license to kill ". The dawn of the new era is represented by San Francisco, where the local police have long been joined by androids who have the function of implementing search operations and in the near future they can also be used for detonations in the field.

Generally, the limitation that the robots developed so far have is the fact that they can only be operational on the ground . Now, even this limitation can be overcome thanks to the new combination of the ability to move a "four-legged" automaton and the potential of ferromagnetic materials.

MARVEL robot movements. Credits: Science.org, Agile and versatile climbing on ferromagnetic surfaces with a quadrupedal robot

MARVEL: the robot created with ferromagnetic materials

The new robotic creation came to life thanks to the team formed by the union between researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and those from the University of Illinois. The fusion of these minds produced the MARVEL robot, whose acronym derives from the name Magnetically Adhesive Robot for Versatile and Expeditious Locomotion and which, nomen omen , uses its own supports formed from ferromagnetic materials to adhere to vertical surfaces and ceilings .

In addition to their utility and versatility, these machines also possess speed. These androids, in fact, manage to climb surfaces in a sudden way, reaching 0.7 m/s . Everything manages to be completed with precise maneuvers, also designed to "survive adversity". In fact, as the researcher Seungwoo Hong also stated, these robots have a range of movements that also allows them to " cross empty spaces, overcome obstacles and transition flat around corners ".

The new robot that will improve human life

MARVEL architectural description. Credits: Science.org, Agile and versatile climbing on ferromagnetic surfaces with a quadrupedal robot

The new robots obviously share the goal of every artificial product: they will be able to help humans carry out the most risky missions. Thanks to androids that move safely and quickly not only on the flat but also upwards, any maintenance technician will be able to do his job without having to put his life at risk .

Furthermore, these robots have two other essential and fundamental characteristics: low consumption and the ability to support weight. MARVEL is in fact capable of carrying and moving weights that reach a maximum of 3 kg without using electricity . So far, robots have been able to overcome obstacles up to 5 m and move smoothly from flat surfaces to vertical walls and ceilings even if these are full of dust , and therefore difficult to navigate. These results have been achieved through the use of special magnets that are able to adhere "like a scotch tape" to surfaces and to do so they only use their magnetic properties.

EPM: MARVEL's innovative paw

MARVEL turns out to be able to move like a real mammal, placing its legs during the support phase and then raising them later . In fact, the "feet" of the robot consist of the electropermanent magnet EPM which behaves like an electromagnet and which adheres to the metal surfaces thanks to the MRE, a magnetorheological elastomer. This means that these supports exploit the magnetic activity of the soft material of which the feet are made which behaves like an "adhesive rubber". According to the researchers, EPMs allow adhesion to the surface and will be improved to be able to deal with increasingly complex surfaces, while MREs complement the adhesion by increasing the contact area .

Therefore, the robot is able to move because the legs are magnetized and demagnetized according to the position required by the movement . The researchers have ensured that the machine is able to use the ferromagnetic properties and the elastomers to anchor the "paw" to the surface, while also being agile in releasing the latter during the lifting of the metal limb.

The discovery is exciting, especially if you consider how many people still lose their lives in the workplace today. For this reason, these solutions outline a solution towards the future of occupational safety.

Edited by Luisa Bizzotto.

The article Quadruped robot capable of climbing walls: it's called MARVEL was written on: Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .