"Spider-Man" Robot Shoots "Webs"

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October 5, 2009—Inspired by the comic superhero, a spiderbot that can shoot cables with magnetic ends and walk on metal surfaces is under development at Israel's Ben Gurion University. Once completed, the robot could move cargo or conduct rescue operations, researchers say.

© 2009 National Geographic (AP)

Unedited Transcript

Meet "spiderbot".

Its a robot that can hang from cables and make maneuvers for moving cargo, or, one day, its hoped, rescue operations.

Inspired by Spider-Man, a group of engineering students at Ben Gurion University in southern Israel have designed this cable-suspended robot.

It can shoot cables with magnetic ends and walk on metal surfaces.

SOUNDBITE (English) Alon Capua, Spiderbot Project Supervisor: "This is a novel design of a robot capable of walking on cables, by dispensing cables to desired locations we can perform stable motions."

The current Spiderbot is a prototype, and is limited to metal surfaces, as the cables shot by the robot have magnetic ends.

SOUNDBITE (English) Alon Capua, Spiderbot Project Supervisor: "It suspends cables towards possible or known directions and in this way we are capable of moving inside a stance space and from one stance space to another."

Now the designers are working on developing different attachments so the robot can have wider uses. They're also looking at ways to increase the power of the engines so Spiderbot can be used safely over long distances and outdoor surfaces.

Once this has been achieved it's hoped the robot can be used to handle cargo, or even for rescue missions.

SOUNDBITE (English) Amir Shapiro, Ben Gurion University Mechanical Engineering: "The application of spiderbot can be for saving survivors in the middle of the ocean where you can imagine people in the middle of the sea and two boats on the sides and the robots are handling to the sides of the boats and holding the survivors and carrying them up to the boat. This is one application, another application is shooting arrows at buildings at the end of the streets and then moving along the street, on top of the street and having cameras and communication hardware."

Theyre now ready to move on to the next stage of the robots development which they hope will be used for commercial projects.

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