SRI International is a company with a very common name, that’s come up with an uncommon solution that might soon become very common in robots and various appliances performing common tasks.
Their electroadhesion technology can probably be applied to just about anything you can imagine, from garbage gathering spiderbots to people being able to climb walls spiderman-style. Electroadhesion would let an object stick to most any surface, from wood to glass to concrete, and it would do so by creating electrostatic charges.
It consumes little power, and it’s theorized that 11square feet of electroadhesive surface would support 440 pounds using just 40mW of power. That’s bad news for wannabe spidermen – unless the traction can be scaled up by using more power, you’re not climbing a wall anytime soon. The ‘robot’ in the video can do it easily, however, what with being light and rectangular, and electroadhesion will also let robots grip and carry things without having to pinch and grab them with complex articulated limbs.