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Science. 2016 May 20;352(6288):978-82. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf1092.

Perching and takeoff of a robotic insect on overhangs using switchable electrostatic adhesion.

Author information

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. graule@mit.edu rjwood@seas.harvard.edu.
2
John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
3
John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
4
John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
5
Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering Department, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL 60616, USA.
6
SRI International, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA.
7
John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. graule@mit.edu rjwood@seas.harvard.edu.

Abstract

For aerial robots, maintaining a high vantage point for an extended time is crucial in many applications. However, available on-board power and mechanical fatigue constrain their flight time, especially for smaller, battery-powered aircraft. Perching on elevated structures is a biologically inspired approach to overcome these limitations. Previous perching robots have required specific material properties for the landing sites, such as surface asperities for spines, or ferromagnetism. We describe a switchable electroadhesive that enables controlled perching and detachment on nearly any material while requiring approximately three orders of magnitude less power than required to sustain flight. These electroadhesives are designed, characterized, and used to demonstrate a flying robotic insect able to robustly perch on a wide range of materials, including glass, wood, and a natural leaf.

PMID:
27199427
DOI:
10.1126/science.aaf1092
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