Research efforts funded by Chinese government grants has yielded an improvement in robotics functionality – now spider robots can climb walls with rough and uneven surfaces.

In the article “Vacuum suction unit based on the zero pressure difference method” published in Physics of Fluids on January 14, scientists Kaige Shi and Xin Li has presented a new method to “effectively avoid vacuum leakage and maintain the vacuum state on rough and uneven surfaces.”

In comparison with traditional methods, that for preventing vacuum leakage attempt “to block the flow part between the atmosphere and the vacuum zone”, the new method, named zero pressure difference (ZPD) method, using a rotating water mechanism:

“We successfully designed and fabricated a ZPD suction unit that uses a rotating water layer to generate a steep pressure gradient on the periphery of the vacuum zone, so a high vacuum can be maintained in the center of the vacuum zone while the pressure at the boundary remains atmospheric”

Scientists have reported that the new method was “successfully applied to a robotic arm, wall-climbing robot, and spider-man wall-climbing device”. According to one of the researchers, Xin Li, while applications of this technology are numerous, the method mostly paths a way for more efficient climbing robots:

“Compared to other wall-climbing robots, the robot with our ZPD-based suction unit achieves surprising improvement in performance”

In future, scientists are planning to reduce the water consumption to further improve wall-climbing robot functionality. Now the robot is connected to the water supply, but with the reduction of water consumption, it could perform autonomously.

Photo credit: research team

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