Multi-Scale Compliant Foot Designs and Fabrication for Use with a Spider-Inspired Climbing Robot
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Climbing robots are of potential use for surveillance, inspection and exploration in different environments. In particular, the use of climbing robots for space exploration can allow scientists to explore environments too challenging for traditional wheeled designs. To adhere to surfaces, biomimetic dry adhesives based on gecko feet have been proposed. These biomimetic dry adhesives work by using multi-scale compliant mechanisms to make intimate contact with different surfaces and adhere by using Van der Waals forces. Fabrication of these adhesives has frequently been challenging however, due to the difficulty in combining macro, micro and nanoscale compliance. We present an all polymer foot design for use with a hexapod climbing robot and a fabrication method to improve reliability and yield. A high strength, low-modulus silicone, TC-5005, is used to form the foot base and microscale fibres in one piece by using a two part mold. A macroscale foot design is produced using a 3D printer to produce a base mold, while lithographic definition of microscale fibres in a thick photoresist forms the ‘hairs’ of the polymer foot. The adhesion of the silicone fibres by themselves or attached to the macro foot is examined to determine best strategies for placement and removal of feet to maximize adhesion. Results demonstrate the successful integration of micro and macro compliant feet for use in climbing on a variety of surfaces.
Keywordsbiomimetics dry adhesive gecko climbing robot MEMS silicone
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