In Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film, Minority Report, John Anderton (Tom Cruise) finds himself on the lam until he can prove his (future?) innocence to Washington D.C.’s PreCrime division. Unfortunately for Anderton, one of the devices that PreCrime has at its disposable is a spider-like robot that can go seemingly anywhere, thanks to its spindly legs and dextrous design. Now, researchers at Stanford have developed what looks like a primitive version of that bot — it can fly, climb walls, and perch while receiving and relaying messages.
Let’s hope Mr. Anderton has another fresh pair of eyeballs somewhere in that gross fridge.
The multi-modal bot is nicknamed SCAMP (Stanford Climbing and Aerial Maneuvering Platform), although according to Stanford Ph.D student Morgan Pope, the lead author of the currently-in-review research paper on SCAMP for IEEE Transactions on Robotics, the acronym is really just a “collection of words that gives us an excuse to call our robot SCAMP.”
A product of Stanford’s Biomimetics & Dextrous Manipulation Laboratory, SCAMP puts on his multi-talented show (seen in the above video) thanks to plenty of inspiration from animal physiology. Pope notes that SCAMP takes movement and design cues from many creatures, including flying squirrels, woodpeckers, and daddy longlegs. The result of the mixture is a drone that buzzes, flies, and wall climbs much like a big mechanical bug.
In order to achieve its combination of abilities, SCAMP uses a quadrotor for flying, as well as two servo motors—one to push and pull it toward and away from a given wall, the other to move its two front legs—and micro-spines. The micro-spines, or “spiny feet,” attach to walls when “pulled down against the foothold, and release when tension is removed.” The rotors can also help to push SCAMP against a wall in case he needs extra thrust.
Pope says that the goal for creating SCAMP is to provide a flying robot with low power usage, as well as the ability to perch on a wall somewhere for long periods of time while sending and receiving messages. These messages could include information about anything from updates on disaster survivors to measurements of earthquake aftershocks to finding out exactly which hotel room contains a fugitive who swears he isn’t going to do what he’s already done in the future. He can’t hide though, SCAMP will find him…
What do you think about SCAMP? Do you want him crawling all over your walls ASAP, or do you dare besmirch the powers of the perch? Let us know in the comments section below!
HT: IEEE Spectrum