Let's Make Robots!

Electronic suction pads/cups ?

Hi Everyone!

Does anyone know of any cheap suction pads that can be triggered electronically? I'm looking to build a robot that can climb smooth surfaces like glass and smooth walls, and suction pads are the only method that I can think of... If not does anyone know of alternative methods? It needs to be cheap, strong and quiet though!

Edit: What about using static electricity (like rubbing a balloon so it sticks to a wall) ? Any thoughts on that idea?  

Thanks :)


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Hi Everyone!

Thanks for all the replies :D I've had a look at the climbatron although it seems to be fairly slow moving, but a definite possibility! I was considering modifying normal suction cups, although for £12 it would be easier just to buy the climbatron! As for the coffee bean gripper it wouldn't work on flat surfaces, although if I changed my target area to rough surfaces like trees then they would definitely be a possibility.

If I see a climbatron I'll buy it and hack it, but in the mean time I think I'll experiment around with the coffee bean balloon idea, Thanks again!

I saw a toy robot using suction cups while killing some time with my kids today.

It took a couple of AA batteries, and had small concertina-type pumps on either side, with small plastic tubes which ran to the suction pads.

I assume it was all mechanical, in that the pumps went in and out, sucking and unsucking (is that a word?!) at the correct time when the appropriate feet were on the surface.

Trying to remember its name, but can't - sorry. Would be good to hack.

(P.S.) Just did a quick google, and found the climb@tron, which I think was the name of the toy I saw today. However, the ones I've found on the net are bipeds, made a few years ago. The one I saw today was a quadruped.

Is this what you saw? The benefit of this over my idea is you could locate the pumps in the main body and run some thin tubing anywhere.



Can you point me in the right direction, please, ezekiel181?

Aha! It's called the climb@tron Walligator. Here's one I found:


Thanks for that, joC.

I actually found one on eBay, with a start price of 1p (penny), and to my amazement won it for that price. :D :D :D (Although with postage and packing it cost me £6)

It is brand new, and originally came from the Science Museum in London.

To my surprise, it actually works brilliantly, and even changes direction when it encounters the "window frame" on it's travels.

Very clever design and quite simple.

If anyone is interested, I'll strip it down, and do a sort of review of it.

Yes! That's the one I saw today. The little pumps are pretty nifty.

Have you seen any of the videos of people building grippers from coffee beans and a ballon? It might work for something like this.


Look at suction cups on GPS holders. They work by pulling the tip of the cup away from the outer ring of the cup which changes the shape of the underside thereby creating suction. Usually there is either a screw twist or lever mechanism to pull on the centre of the cup. They wouldn`t be too hard to modify.

Thanks for the replies!

@rogue I did think about using one of those cars, although I have one and it only really works well on clean glass and nothing else :/

@eclipse I thought that might be the case, ah well I'll just have to stick with floors for now!