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See the Israeli Spiderman Robot in Action (Video)

See the Israeli Spiderman Robot in Action (Video)

November 15, 2010

Robotics & High-Tech

Visitors to the bi-annual Robotics Conference in Israel had a chance to meet Spiderman, at least in the form of a robot.

The Spiderbot, which was developed by a group of engineers at the Robotics Laboratory at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, was inspired by the legendary comic superhero. The robot can shoot cables with magnetic ends and walk on metal surfaces. In fact, researchers told National Geographic magazine last year that if developed properly, the Spiderbot could move cargo or conduct rescue operations.

Amir Shapiro, the director of the Robotics Lab at Ben-Gurion University’s Mechanical Engineering department, explained in an interview to National Geographic in October of last year what the robot could possibly do.

“The application of Spiderbot can be for saving survivors in the middle of the ocean. Imagine people in the middle of the sea and the robots are hanging from the sides of two rescue boats, holding the survivors and carrying them up to the boat.

“Another application is using their web-like abilities to move from one position to another, say from one end of the street to the opposite end, all the while using cameras and communication hardware to provide information.”

Shapiro usually models his robotic creations from animals such as snakes, snails, and even cats. His team recently created a snake-like robot by combining two concurrent wave motions to create a slithering movement.

He has worked with the IDF and crafted wall-climbing robots for intelligence gathering, including a robot that can scale concrete walls by releasing melted glue. In keeping with the animal motif, this robot was designed to act like a snail which leaves a trail of glue behind. The walk and climb of a cat were his inspiration for a robot with four hooks whose four legs carry fishhooks.

Another one of Shapiro’s creations is a robot with compliant magnetic wheels that can clamber on submerged hulls of cargo ships. Shapiro believes that this robot will one day be able to replace divers who now check for contraband and bombs.

He recently told Spectrum magazine: “A robot can do it safer, better, easier, and much less expensively. A good scanning algorithm can make it very efficient.”