Crablike robot walks on walls, ceilings with magnet feet

BIREM can go from horizontal to vertical surfaces and could be used to inspect aging bridges and other steel structures.

Thankfully, BIREM won't be showing up on your walls anytime soon. Osaka City University

Here's what we all long to see -- a robot crawling along the ceiling.

That may or may not give you goosebumps. But if you're an engineer, a magnetic wall-crawler developed at Osaka City University in Japan could prove useful when inspecting bridges and other structures.

The awkwardly named Bridge Inspection Robot Equipping Magnets (BIREM) can move as fast as 7.8 inches per second. Imagine that skittering up your wall.

Operated by remote control, BIREM moves on four wheels, each with eight spokes that are capped with powerful magnets.

Its flexible body allows the crab-inspired bot to bend at the middle so it can transition from a vertical surface to a horizontal one easily.

Equipped with a laser range sensor, camera, and other tools to gather info about its environment, the critter can be used to find cracks and corrosion on bridges and other steel infrastructure.

Similar machines have been developed to inspect power lines and dam walls.

Led by engineering professor Yogo Takada, the team that developed BIREM hopes to continue developing it with Japanese manufacturers and possibly market it in three years.

Anybody else creeped out by the thought of wall-crawling robots?

 

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