Wrinkle-traveling Clothbot makes its IEEE debut (w/ Video)

May 19, 2012 by Nancy Owano weblog

(Phys.org) -- As any gathering of scientists working with robots will suggest, attempts toward perfecting techniques and outcomes of grasping and maneuvering are key issues for researchers working on climbing robots. At this week’s IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the robotics community got to see what a Chinese team has achieved in its presentation of Clothbot. This is a climbing robot that easily climbs up your pants or shirt. The Clothbot is small and lightweight, which did not deter from bloggers’ reactions that the device was “creepy.” System and Design of Clothbot: a Robot for Flexible Clothes Climbing, by Yuanyuan Liu, Xinyu Wu, Huihuan Qian, Duan Zheng, Jianquan Sun and Yangsheng Xu from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was presented Tuesday at the IEEE event.

They have come up with a climbing with special features that they say include high maneuverability on “flexible” clothes. Clothbot has an omni-directional tail of two DOFs, say the authors, so that it can change its center of gravity to control the moving direction on complex clothes. Consequently, Clothbot can access most positions by moving straight and turning around, with only four motors.

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The other feature they point to is Clothbot’s gripper design, consisting of two parallel wheels that can grip continuously and stably on various kinds of clothes. Clothbot’s gripping mechanism creates cloth wrinkles and then proceeds up the wrinkle. Those who watched the Cloithbot video concluded that all the robots need are wrinkles to really get going; the robots use the wrinkles to move along, inspiring, for the researchers anyway, ideas for end applications such as electronic toys or very upwardly mobile phones for users at times when they need to be hands-free.

The Clothbot will not leave a lot of marks as a result of its movements; only slight folds remain. The authors suggest besides an application as a tiny pet device climbing on human bodies or a climbing phone that the Clothbot can be applied for body inspection.

Clothbot is but one of many design and development efforts toward creating climbing robots that can be used in civilian and military applications. Observers say that progress has been made but the technology of and walking robots still represents a challenging research area.

Explore further: The potential for robots to perform human jobs

More information: via IEEE Spectrum

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User comments : 2

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alfie_null
not rated yet May 20, 2012
Not that I think it looks "creepy" (I like it just the way it is) but it would be simple to wrap the robot in something that looks child-like, with big soulful eyes. As we are wired to like such appearing critters.
Argiod
1 / 5 (2) May 21, 2012
Imagine this as a soldier-bot that can climb up your enemy's clothes and inject something to knock them out... Medi=bots that can treat people caught in spaces too small to get at. They could deliver anything from water to meds, give injections and diagnose the victim/patient condition if needed. With cameras they could be used to do visual assessments of conditions in spaces too tight for humans or conventional robots. This looks to be a fairly versatile little system.

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