Researchers at ETH Zurich, a Swiss research institute, have developed a fascinating and remarkable small robot known as the Magnecko. Drawing inspiration from the architecture of spiders and incorporating elements from geckos, this robot stands out. Through the implementation of electro-permanent magnet modules on its four feet, the Magnecko effortlessly traverses walls and ceilings with its unique locomotion.
Naturally, akin to most robots we encounter, these prototypes don’t exhibit the swift and efficient movements often depicted in science fiction media like video games, movies, and TV shows. The Magnecko, in contrast, operates at a significantly slower pace. Each step it takes demands several seconds, as its electromagnetic feet intricately engage, anchoring it securely to the wall or ceiling it traverses.
Despite its gradual movement, the robot’s performance remains remarkably noteworthy. The engineers at the helm highlight that the electromagnetic feet possess the capability to support a load up to 2.5 times the robot’s own weight, enabling it to gracefully maneuver even while upside down. The underlying mechanism involves the integration of modules containing smaller magnets within the feet. These magnets can be cyclically magnetized and demagnetized in sync with the robot’s motion, facilitating its unique locomotion.
What’s even more remarkable is that these feet operate without the need for a constant supply of electricity to maintain their active or inactive states. This means there’s no necessity to continuously power the feet with electricity to keep them magnetized and support the Magnecko’s adherence to ceilings and walls.
At its current stage, the robot relies on manual control via a wireless handheld controller. However, the aspiration is to enhance the robot’s autonomy, enabling it to respond to commands and follow programmed instructions. This advancement could potentially revolutionize structural inspections on a global scale.
But the aspirations extend beyond this. The engineers envision a future where the Magnecko becomes capable of autonomous maintenance and remotely conducted repairs. This year has undoubtedly marked impressive progress in robotics, with some researchers even developing a melting spy robot that can liquefy into a puddle once its mission is fulfilled.