Robot uses supersonic air jets to climb on walls and ceilings (w/ video)

May 24, 2011 by Lisa Zyga weblog
robot bernoulli
In this clip from the video below, the robot crawls up a wall using a non-contact vacuum grip, due to Bernoulli's principle. Image credit: University of Canterbury.

( -- Instead of using sticky footpads to climb on walls and ceilings, a new robot takes advantage of fast-moving air that can generate an adhesion force on just about any kind of surface. The robot’s grippers, which don’t ever actually touch the surface as the robot climbs, operate on Bernoulli’s principle of fluid dynamics.

The robot was developed by researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, with the results published in a recent ICRA paper by Matthew Journee, et al.

According to Bernoulli’s principle, when a fluid (such as air) moves faster, its pressure decreases. To generate extremely fast-moving air, the researchers designed round grippers with tiny 25-μm gaps around the rim, out of which high-speed air can be forced. This design can compress the airflow so much that the air reaches supersonic speeds of Mach 3. The fast-moving air creates a low-pressure vortex inside the grippers that’s strong enough to pull the robot toward nearby surfaces, such as walls and ceilings, without actually touching them. The robot can roll on its two wheels, but the grippers are separated from the surface by a small gap.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
The robot demonstrates adhesion with supersonic air jets on a variety of surfaces. Video credit: University of Canterbury.

Non-contact Bernoulli grippers have previously been used to pick up lightweight objects, especially those that are sterile or fragile. But in order to use the principle to enable a to climb, the researchers had to make the grippers five times stronger than the conventional version. They achieved this increase in strength by the carefully designed gaps, without the need for additional air pressure.

The non-contact could have applications in industrial inspections, and should be available in the coming months.

Explore further: Future US Navy: Robotic sub-hunters, deepsea pods

More information: IEEE Spectrum

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Da Vinci surgical robot makes a tiny paper airplane

Apr 05, 2011

( -- The da Vinci surgical robot may be best known for performing prostate, gynecological, and heart valve surgeries. But in its spare moments, as Dr. James Porter of the Swedish Medical Center ...

A delicate grip

Nov 04, 2009

( -- Solar wafers for use in the production of photovoltaic systems are extremely sensitive. In a test and demonstration center research is being conducted on grippers to determine the best way ...

Care-O-bot 3: Always at your service

Jul 01, 2008

Who doesn’t long for household help at times? Service robots will soon be able to relieve us of heavy, dirty, monotonous or irksome tasks. Research scientists have now presented a new generation of household ...

Simple Robot Climbs Through Tubes (w/ Video)

May 12, 2010

Last week was the IEEE's International Conference on Robotics and Automation, held in Anchorage, Alaska. One of the most interesting robots was a simple -- and fast -- bot designed to climb easily through tubes.

Robots climb up the wall (w/ Video)

Jan 19, 2010

( -- A robotics scientist from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheeba, Israel, has developed four different kinds of robots that climb up walls.

Recommended for you

Future US Navy: Robotic sub-hunters, deepsea pods

Mar 28, 2015

The robotic revolution that transformed warfare in the skies will soon extend to the deep sea, with underwater spy "satellites," drone-launching pods on the ocean floor and unmanned ships hunting submarines.

Festo has BionicANTs communicating by the rules for tasks

Mar 27, 2015

Germany-based automation company Festo, focused on technologies for tasks, turns to nature for inspiration, trying to take the cues from how nature performs tasks so efficiently. "Whether it's energy efficiency, ...

Virtual robotization for human limbs

Mar 26, 2015

Recent advances in computer gaming technology allow for an increasingly immersive gaming experience. Gesture input devices, for example, synchronise a player's actions with the character on the screen. Entertainment ...

Robots on reins could be the 'eyes' of firefighters

Mar 25, 2015

Researchers at King's College London have developed revolutionary reins that enable robots to act like guide dogs, which could enable that firefighters moving through smoke-filled buildings could save vital ...

Robot revolution will change world of work

Mar 24, 2015

Robots will fundamentally change the shape of the workforce in the next decade but many industries will still need a human touch, a QUT Future of Work Conference has heard.

User comments : 8

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) May 24, 2011
Now that IS clever.
not rated yet May 24, 2011
I don't understand!
5 / 5 (3) May 24, 2011
There's a lot of prior work on this method; I worked with a similar robot in my Automation classes (it was built by some students in their senior year project and our class work was just to program it). But 25m gaps, Mach-3 air flow -- THAT is new, and very cool :)
not rated yet May 24, 2011
Yes, it's a clever trick but nothing ground-breaking. Basically, just another implementation of a suction cup where lower air pressure is created by using Bernoullis principle. The neat thing of course is that it avoids contact with the surface and blows outwards!
1 / 5 (1) May 24, 2011
A Mach 3 flow through microscopic gaps... That must be a lot of pressure. Would it pierce your finger microscopically if you tried to block it?
not rated yet May 25, 2011
This is nothing new, semiconductor capital equipment makers have been using this for years on certain high moving parts.
not rated yet May 26, 2011
well I think the point is that it's a clever way to attach to something and still be mobile. It's the same sort of suction power as a vacuum cleaner, for example, but instead of sucking - it's blowing. This is important because it allows for a much more lightweight hose (carrying high pressure air). If the airflow were reversed, I think it would be a lot harder to achieve the proper suction, as the small hose would be a huge bottleneck for the air, and would likely just kink up and collapse (and not work).
not rated yet May 30, 2011
gotta love the "nothing new here" crowd. So smarty pants - where is the link to your proposal for this idea that you already did, hmmm?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.