Yes, a group of researchers has developed a tech that can help machines walk on vertical surfaces, like walls, by defying gravity.
Here's all you need to know about the new system.
Developed by the researchers at the American Institute of Physics, the tech in question is a vacuum suction device that can allow robots to grip on to a variety of surfaces.
This is a major upgrade over previously-tried suction-based solutions; they all struggled to stand on rough surfaces owing to the problem of vacuum leakage, which failed the suction, causing the device to fall.
To create this device and make it stand firm on different surfaces, the researchers used a technique called 'zero-pressure difference'.
They placed a water ring rotating at high-speeds between surface and suction cup, allowing the device to generate centrifugal force strong enough to eliminate the pressure difference at the boundary of the vacuum zone and prevent vacuum leakage.
And, when there is no leakage, the suction cup maintains high vacuum pressure, ultimately allowing the device to grip on to a vertical surface firmly, regardless of its texture.
Beyond working on different surfaces, the novel suction unit is also fairly energy-efficient.
Plus, the tech is smaller and lighter than the original models, something that allows engineers to integrate it with robotic systems.
In fact, in this case only, the new unit was tested with a robotic arm to grip and handle objects as well as a Spider-Man-like wall-climbing system.
"There are many applications of our design, but we think the wall-climbing robot will be the most useful," project member Xin Li said, adding that "Compared to other wall-climbing robots, the robot with our ZPD-based suction unit achieves surprising improvement in performance."
Though the robotic system developed by the researchers is promising, they recognize that it consumes a lot of water.
So, as the next step, they plan on refining the device and cutting down the amount of water it consumes for gripping.
"If the water consumption can be reduced, the suction unit will work for a very long time with little water," the team added.
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