Wall-Crawling Robot Made for Space

‘Abigaille’ was developed by a team led by SFU researcher Carlo Menon

A climbing robot with sticky, gecko-like feet built by SFU researchers could one day be used in space

The ‘dry adhesive’ footpads on the ‘Abigaille’ family of crawling robots, developed by SFU engineering scientist and professor Carlo Menon, mimic the nanoscopic hairs on the feet of gecko lizards, besting other adhesives like Velcro and duct tape in the vacuum-like conditions of space.
While the bulk of Menon’s research was completed about a year ago, his team released images of videos last week of Abigaille_III scaling walls at in vacuum-like conditions. The release followed successful tests conducted at the European Space Agency’s Electrical Materials and Process Labs in the Netherlands.
For Menon’s team, the successful results proved the concept and demonstrated that their robot could climb. Menon will publish a paper this month in the journal Bionic Engineering.
“The project has been very exciting,” says Menon, who was awarded a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Resarch Council in 2008 and a contract from the ESA to build climbing robotic systems. To date, around eight SFU undergraduates, master’s and PhDs have worked with Menon on his research on bio-robots and smart materials.
According to Menon, researchers will run tests in space as part of next phase of the project, first on a reduced gravity flight and eventually on the International Space Station.