It looks like a giant mechanical spider, but with only 4 legs. It can clamber up a metal beam with it’s magnetic feet, and may be the future inspector of many places humans can’t get to, or don’t want to (like the inside of a large fuel container or the underbelly of an offshore oil rig).
The Magnapod is the result of work done at CSIRO in Australia to explore autonomous robotic applications for inspecting hazardous confined environments, buildings and other infrastructure like oil rigs. It’s not difficult to imagine these spider-like robots inspecting the hulls of ships, ballast tanks of submarines, or even the outside of a spaceship!
We dropped into CSIRO’s data and digital specialist arm, DATA61, to talk to Dr Tirtha Bandyopadhyay who is the research and project lead for these amazing climbing robots. Below you will find our extended interview with him as he walks us through all of the features of the robot in it’s current configuration.
As you will see in the interview this robot has a high degree of freedom to get in and out of confined and challenging spaces and successfully navigate surfaces with many obstacles, as would be typical in real-world applications. And although the name emphasizes the magnetic feet these are conceivably interchangeable with suction caps or other types of gripping end effectors (admittedly with some software adaptations).
For those who would like to get into the details of the robot you can download this paper: Magneto: A Versatile Multi-Limbed Inspection Robot.