Why does Clothbot want to climb up your pants?

Would you mind this little machine perching on your shoulder? All it needs is a little fold or wrinkle to get busy.

Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET

Robots climbing up your leg -- are you cool with that? Chinese researchers certainly are, arguing they could become electronic pets, or even "mobile" phones.

Presented this week at the 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in St. Paul, Minn., Clothbot was developed by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

As seen in the video below, the machine crawls up folds in clothing, slowing making its way up trouser legs or even the back of a shirt. It uses a pair of gripper wheels to create and cling to a fold in the cloth.

Weighing some 140 grams, it has a tail that helps it maneuver. Its destination and ultimate purpose, however, remain mysterious.

According to IEEE Spectrum, in their research paper "System and Design of Clothbot: a Robot for Flexible Clothes Climbing," author Yuanyuan Liu and colleagues propose three applications: "a tiny pet climbing on human bodies," "a movable phone on our shoulder which frees human hands," and finally, "body inspection."

And you thought the TSA was bad.

(Via IEEE Spectrum )

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