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Climbing robot can scale walls on a supersonic stream of air, won't leave fingerprints behind

Amar Toor, @amartoo
05.25.11
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There are plenty of wall climbing robots roaming the Earth, but few can scale heights as gracefully as this little guy can. Developed by researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, this bot can wind its way across any glass, metal or cloth terrain, without even touching its pods to the surface. The secret lies in Bernoulli's Principle, which states that as the speed of a fluid increases, its pressure decreases. This phenomenon also applies to streams of air, which, when moving at high speeds around of a circular gripper, can create a vacuum strong enough to hold things without actually touching them. In this case, air shoots out of the robot's feet at more than 2,000 miles per hour, creating enough pressure to lift the craft, while holding it close to the wall. The technology isn't new, but rarely can it support the weight of an entire device -- let alone the extra cargo that this climber's non-contact adhesive pads can hold. Researchers say the supersonic grippers will be available in "some months" and will probably cost "a few hundred dollars." As for the bot itself, Canterbury's engineers envision it being used for industrial inspections -- though the more we think about it, the more we realize just how dirty our windows are. Video after the break.


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