Spiders, scorpions, feelings of regret — I venture to guess these are all things most people don’t want crawling up their leg. But what about Clothbot?
For me, its name evokes the unpleasantries of moth balls and blood clots, but I promise, this itsy-bitsy bot is so adorable you’ll be happy to see it climbing up your trousers.
Created by a team of roboticists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Clothbot uses a gripping mechanism that pinches folds in cloth and uses that wrinkle to drive up the fabric with a pair of gripper wheels. Clothbot weighs a feathery 140 grams and also boasts an omni-directional tail that helps center its gravity and navigate its textile terrain.
However, Clothbot isn’t the only droid dominating the drape-climbing demographic. Last year, researchers from UC Berkeley gave us CLASH, a four-legged scuttle-bot capable of scrambling up the the couch with the greatest of ease thanks to its lightweight body, which tipped the scales at 15 grams. CLASH’s “little spiny toes” allowed the robot to scurry along the ground at 15 body lengths per second.
Unlike CLASH and its spiny toes, Clothbot doesn’t leave small holes in the fabric. In fact, it looks like it might even feel good — or tickle — to have Clothbot climb up your clothes.
As for what is the purpose of Clothbot? Its creators envision it could serve as a small pet, a movable hands-free phone or an aid in body inspection.
Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences