T. Seidl, R. Vidoni and A. Gasparetto
Spider attachment for space applications
Proceedings of the 9th Intl Bionics Conf. Patents from Nature, Bremen (Germany), November 7-8, 2008

Abstract: Firm attachment between loose objects is a critical issue in the absence of gravity like, e.g. on-board a space station. This fundamental issue of space travel led to the success of the bioinspired Velcro which is based on a statistical anchoring between a "hook" surface and a "loop" surface. Together with the increasing use of extra-vehicular activities, a system working on a broad variety of surfaces, e.g. the hull of a space station, is needed. Robotic devices need to locomote freely and safely on the outside of spacecraft. On top of that, complexity of the system must be kept at a minimum. Recent research on geckos and spiders, Evarcha arcuata, led to the description of an even more astonishing mechanism of so called dry attachment via van der Waals forces. Contrary to the gecko, the spiders control attachment passively via the kinematics of their legs. Their locomotive apparatus is highly versatile allowing for walking, jumping, and object handling. In the study presented here, we analyzed the attachment systems of E. arcuata and geckos and together with existing data on spider kinematics we conceptualized a legged walker suitable for space applications, for example working on the outer surface of a space station.

Area: Robotica

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