A company called SRI International is currently developing an exciting new technology called compliant electroadhesion. Simply put, an object with electroadhesive properties can hold or stick to most common surfaces, like wood, glass, brick or concrete by inducing electrostatic charges.
This method consumes a small amount of power – theoretically, 11 sq.ft. of an electroadhesive will be able to support 440lbs while using only 40mW of power. Another advantage of electroadhesion is that it can be turned on and off with the flick of a switch.
Pictured above is an electroadhesive robotic gripper. As you can see, electroadhesion not only makes for wall-climbing robots…
…it can also lead to robots that can hold a variety of objects without the need for mechanically complex appendages.
Aside from robots, SRI International is also looking at other applications for electroadhesion, like safer ladders, and yes, human wall-climbing.