Skip to Main Content
In this paper, flat elastomers are proposed as an attachment material for climbing robots on less than a few micrometer-scale rough surfaces due to their energy-efficient, quiet, and residue-free characteristics. The proper elastomer is chosen by the use of the current adhesion, friction, and peeling elastomer-contact-mechanics models. Then, adhesion and friction properties of the chosen dry flat-elastomer thick films (Vytaflex-10) are characterized on acrylic and smooth and rough glass surfaces for variations in preloads, speeds, contact times, and elastomer thicknesses. A climbing robot with four-bar-based legged-body kinematics is designed and fabricated as simple and lightweight as possible to demonstrate the feasibility of the elastomers as attachment materials on relatively smooth surfaces. The robot utilizes a passive alignment system to make the footpads parallel to the surface on light contact, a peeling mechanism to minimize the detachment vibration, and a passive tail to minimize the pitch-back moment. Experimental results showed that the robot can climb stably on vertical, smooth surfaces in any direction and can walk inverted for a limited amount of time.