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‘Magnecko’ robot is like a giant mechanical spider crossed with a gecko

Published Aug 6th, 2023 4:10PM EDT
Image: Magnecko/ETH Zurich

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Engineers at Switzerland’s ETH Zurich research institute have created an intriguing and impressive little robot that they call the Magnecko. The robot is inspired by a spider’s design while also taking some inspiration from geckos. The Magnecko uses electro-permanent magnet modules on its four feet, allowing it to walk easily on walls and ceilings.

Of course, like any robots we talk about, these aren’t going to move as fast or as efficiently as those found in various science fiction media such as video games, movies, or television shows. Instead, the Magnecko is much slower, each step taking several seconds to perform as the electromagnetic feet click back into place and secure it to the wall or ceiling where it is walking.

Despite its slow speed, the robot is very impressive when it comes, and the engineers behind it say that the electromagnetic feet can hold up to 2.5 times the robot’s total weight each, which is what allows the robot to walk upside down. To make them work, the engineers say the modules on the feet are made up of smaller magnets that can be repeatedly magnetized and demagnetized as the robot walks.

What’s even more impressive, though, is that these feet don’t require a steady supply of electricity to remain in either an active or inactive state. So they don’t have to constantly run electricity to the feet to keep them magnetized and keep the Magnecko standing on the ceiling.

In the current version, the robot still has to be completely controlled by a human using a wireless, handheld controller. However, the hope is that the engineers are able to make the robot a bit more autonomous, allowing it to be controlled through commands and other programming. If successful, Magnecko could help revolutionize how we inspect structures worldwide.

Of course, the hopes don’t stop there. The engineers say that it could one day also be used for autonomous maintenance and remotely operated repairs down the line. It has been an impressive year for robotics, with some researchers even making a melting spy robot that can melt into a puddle after it completes its job.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.