May 18, 2012 at 2:13 PM ET
Letting people climb walls like a bug is one thing, but letting robots climb humans like one? The researchers at the Chinese Academy of Science must have felt that robots these days just weren't creepy enough.
The Clothbot is a small robot that uses a pair of grippy wheels to climb up cloth at an alarming rate, be it a lab coat, curtain or jeans. By twisting its head and moving its tail, it can change its center of gravity and the direction it climbs.
Watch this video, and try not to imagine it sliding up your back.
Its chief application seems to be sending shivers up viewers' spines, but the inventors mention several possibilities, as quoted at IEEE Spectrum's Automaton blog:
Not particularly convincing. In fact, they're the kinds of applications robots might make up in order to justify this strange creature's existence. But there's no getting past the fact that, creepy or not, it's effective and interesting. Hopefully they'll find a way to use it that doesn't involve it climbing up my leg.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.