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Stickybot is a bioinspired robot that climbs smooth vertical surfaces such as glass, plastic, and ceramic tile at 4 cm/s. The robot employs several design principles adapted from the gecko including a hierarchy of compliant structures, directional adhesion, and control of tangential contact forces to achieve control of adhesion. We describe the design and fabrication methods used to create underactuated, multimaterial structures that conform to surfaces over a range of length scales from centimeters to micrometers. At the finest scale, the undersides of Stickybot's toes are covered with arrays of small, angled polymer stalks. Like the directional adhesive structures used by geckos, they readily adhere when pulled tangentially from the tips of the toes toward the ankles; when pulled in the opposite direction, they release. Working in combination with the compliant structures and directional adhesion is a force control strategy that balances forces among the feet and promotes smooth attachment and detachment of the toes.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2008