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Gas‐Lubricated Vibration‐Based Adhesion for Robotics

William P. Weston-Dawkes, Iman Adibnazari, Yi-Wen Hu, Michael Everman, ,
Published: 25 May 2021
Advanced Intelligent Systems ; doi:10.1002/aisy.202100001

Abstract: Controllable adhesion has the capability to enable mobile robots to move freely across vertical and inverted surfaces for applications such as inspection, exploration, and cleaning. Previous methods for generating controllable adhesion have relied on fluidic adhesion through suction forces, electromagnetic adhesion through magnetic or electrical interactions, or dry fibrillar structures. Herein, a new method for achieving controllable adhesion by vibrating a flexible plate near a surface, which generates a strong and controllable attraction force, is presented. This adhesion mechanism has the unique property of providing strong adhesion normal to a surface, but very low resistance to motion parallel to the surface, making it attractive for mobile robots. Adhesive capabilities of vibration-based adhesion (VBA) to characterize adhesive force dependence on vibration frequency and surface size are studied. Spatial pressure measurements within the adhesive zone, in combination with visualization of surface vibration modes, demonstrate that adhesion is localized to the center of the disk and decreases radially. A mobile robot to highlight the capabilities and robustness of VBA for payload transport, climbing to inversion transitions, and adhesion control is developed. Overall, a novel physical mechanism for robot-surface adhesion that is robust, controllable, and enables rapid low-friction locomotion is presented herein.
Keywords: adhesions / pneumatic adhesion / robotics / vibrations / wall climbing

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