A legged, climbing robot that adheres to surfaces using dry adhesion is presented. This style of robot has potential applications in the space industry, as dry adhesives (unlike suction, magnets, or conventional pressure sensitive adhesives) have the potential to function effectively on orbiting spacecraft. Dry adhesives, fabricated by previous researchers, were tested in simulated space environments. No reduction in adhesive performance was found for pressures down to 1×10−5 mbar or temperatures from −50C to 75C. The design of a robot, Abigaille-III, was optimized for vertical climbing. A custom computing architecture was developed on a Field Programmable Gate Array. A novel, open-loop preloading controller, and a closed-loop positioning controller were implemented. Abigaille-III was observed to climb smooth and uneven vertical surfaces, transfer from horizontal to vertical, loiter for nearly seven hours and climb vertically at a rate of 0.44 mm s−1 for nearly four hours without detachment.
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Thesis advisor: Menon, Carlo
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