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This smartphone case can crawl up to a wireless charger using tiny robotic legs

If you're too lazy to plonk your phone on a wireless charger, this case can do it for you.

Published onAugust 13, 2020

  • CaseCrawler is a smartphone case with robotic legs.
  • It’s designed to walk your phone up to a wireless charger.
  • It can carry a phone 13 times its weight.

The one thing I love about robotic vacuum cleaners like the Roomba is that they can crawl to their charging stations when their battery is low. But imagine how cool it would be if your phone could crawl up to a charger on its own. Well, if robotic researchers from Seoul National University (SNU) have their way, this could soon be a reality.

Spotted by folks over at Gizmodo, the CaseCrawler is a robot with the body of a phone case. It can carry your phone to a wireless charger nearby using its tiny robotic legs.

How does CaseCrawler work?

CaseCrawler is designed with a deployable, in-plane transmission that is capable of crawling locomotion. It has leg structures complete with knee joints that can bend only in one direction. These legs can fully retract and become flat once the case is done crawling over. They can also climb over small obstacles, like books, in their path.

Obviously, this is not something that’s under production right now. In its current state, the CaseCrawler is 16mm thick on the end which houses the motor and weighs 22.7g. However, it can carry a load of 300g — 13 times its own weight — which is more than sufficient to take on any smartphone out there.

To show the feasibility of CaseCrawler for use in real-world applications, the SNU researchers made it carry a 190g smartphone to a wireless charger. You can see that experiment in action in the video embedded on top.

For now, the CaseCrawler prototype appears to be just a pair of legs without any brains. That is, it cannot intelligently maneuver towards a wireless charger on its own. However, the researchers claim that in the future, if appropriate sensing and control functions are implemented, the robot will be able to collect data or even return to the owner when needed.

So would you buy a crawling smartphone case if it were to become commercial? Or do you just want to throw a book at it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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