Inspired by caterpillars and snails, a team of scientists from the University of Bristol has incorporated this feature into modern robots, creating a small, flexible robot, SkinElectro. The team has envisioned many future scenarios for ElectroSkin, including deployment in hazardous areas and even as an automatic wall cleaner.
This flexible robot has a very broad market application prospect, able to mimic the way snails creep up the wall. Typically, such robots are primarily implemented using electro-adhesion and rely on static power mounted on vertical surfaces. ElectroSkin uses the same technique, but for the first time, the team combined it with self-exercise to mimic the snail’s expansion and contraction through artificial muscles.
Thanks to its elasticity and flexibility, ElectroSkin can be rolled up and stuffed into pockets, and can be thrown to any surface for work in an expanded state. In future developments, the scientific team envisions that if different sensors and accessories are equipped, the robot can clean walls and ceilings and climb into collapsed buildings to transmit video signals where humans cannot reach them.
The team’s findings were published in the journal Soft Robotics.
Source: University of Bristol