Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




ROBO SPACE
Wall-Crawling Gecko Robots Can Stick In Space Too
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Jan 03, 2014


The six-legged Abigaille climbing robot is quite dexterous, able to transition from vertical to horizontal surfaces. It clings to surfaces using a gecko-inspired dry adhesive technology. ESA testing shows it is in principle workable in the vacuum conditions of space. Image courtesy Simon Fraser University School of Engineering Science/MENRVA.

Climbing robots that mimic the stickiness of gecko lizard feet could work in space as well as on Earth, ESA has shown, raising the prospect of hull-crawling automatons tending future spacecraft.

Robots crawling across spacecraft surfaces are a common sight in science fiction films from Silent Running to Wall-E. But, in reality, how might they stick in place while still remaining mobile?

Researchers from ESA and Simon Fraser University in Canada subjected gecko-inspired 'dry adhesive' materials to space vacuum and temperatures, finding the stickiness is retained throughout.

Engineers from the University's School of Engineering Science have demonstrated such adhesives with a family of 'Abigaille' crawling robots.

"This approach is an example of 'biomimicry', taking engineering solutions from the natural world," explained Michael Henrey of Simon Fraser University.

A gecko's feet are sticky due to a bunch of little hairs with ends just 100-200 nanometres across - around the scale of individual bacteria. This is sufficiently tiny that atomic interactions between the ends of the hairs and the surface come into play.

"We've borrowed techniques from the microelectronics industry to make our own footpad terminators," he said. "Technical limitations mean these are around 100 times larger than a gecko's hairs, but they are sufficient to support our robot's weight."

Interested in assessing the adhesive's suitability for space, Michael tested it in ESA's Electrical Materials and Process Labs, based in the Agency's ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, with additional support from ESA's Automation and Robotics Lab.

"The reason we're interested in dry adhesives is that other adhesive methods wouldn't suit the space environment," Michael notes.

"Scotch, duct or pressure-sensitive tape would collect dust, reducing their stickiness over time. They would also give off fumes in vacuum conditions, which is a big no-no because it might affect delicate spacecraft systems.

"Velcro requires a mating surface, and broken hooks could contaminate the robot's working environment. Magnets can't stick to composites, for example, and magnetic fields might affect sensitive instruments."

"A depth-sensing indentation instrument was used inside a vacuum chamber to precisely assess the dry adhesive's sticking performance," said ESA's Laurent Pambaguian. "Experimental success means deployment in space might one day be possible."

"It's very expensive to upgrade hardware once it is up in space so the idea would be to fly a more general robot in the first place," Michael said.

"This could then be adapted through software upgrades for different tasks that weren't anticipated at the start of the project.

"Our Abigaille climbing robot is therefore quite dexterous, with six legs each having four degrees of freedom, so it should be handle environments that a wheeled robot could not.

"For example, it can transition from the vertical to horizontal, which might be useful for going around a satellite or overcoming obstacles on the way."

Robotic wall-crawling is limited to relatively smooth man-made surfaces for now, with research continuing to improve performance.

The cooperation took place through ESA's Networking/Partnering Initiative, which supports work carried out by universities and research institutes on advanced technologies with potential space applications.

.


Related Links
ESA Space Engineering
All about the robots on Earth and beyond!






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





UAV Payloads 2014, 24 - 25 June - London, UK
ROBO SPACE
Geckos in space: Novel robot takes a step to cosmos
Paris (AFP) Jan 02, 2014
A wall-crawling robot inspired by the gecko has taken a small but important step towards a future in space, scientists said on Thursday. The tiny legged prototype could be the forerunner of automatons which crawl along the hulls of spacecraft, cleaning and maintaining them, the European Space Agency (ESA) said. Its footpads are covered with dry microfibres modelled on the toe hair of the ... read more


ROBO SPACE
Wake Up Yutu

Chang'e-3 satellite payload APXS obtained its first spectrum of lunar regolith

Chang'e 3 Lander and Rover From Above

China's moon rover "sleeps" through lunar night

ROBO SPACE
One-way trip to Mars? Sign me up, says Frenchwoman

Clues from Orbit Aiding Exploration Of Opportunity Rover

Decade-Old Rover Adventure Continues on Mars and Earth

More than 1,000 chosen for one-way Mars reality-TV mission

ROBO SPACE
Astronauts Practice Launching in NASA's New Orion Spacecraft

Only lawyers profit as tech giants go to war over patents

Space trips open to Chinese travelers

Work on NASA's New Orion Spacecraft Progresses as Engineers Pivot to 2014

ROBO SPACE
China launches communications satellite for Bolivia

China's moon rover continues lunar survey after photographing lander

China's Yutu "naps", awakens and explores

Deep space monitoring station abroad imperative

ROBO SPACE
CU-Boulder to fly antibiotic experiment on ants to space station

New Science Bound for Station on Orbital's Cygnus

Antares and Cygnus Launch Update

Expedition 38 Sends New Year's Greetings on Off-Duty Day

ROBO SPACE
'20 years of toil has paid off' Says Radhkrishnan

GSLV-D5 launch: What the success means

SpaceX launches second commercial satellite

Arianespace targets record year for rocket launches

ROBO SPACE
Earth appears to be an oddity, astronomers say

Researchers use Hubble Telescope to reveal cloudy weather on alien world

NASA's Hubble Sees Cloudy Super-Worlds With Chance for More Clouds

Using an Atmosphere to Weigh a Planet

ROBO SPACE
Japanese scientists move objects using acoustic levitation

Two new radar stations to be placed into service in Russia in 2014

AVX Announces Market Introduction of First Space-Level BME MLCC

Supercomputers Join Search for 'Cheapium'




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement