Some may have called it "creepy," but tiny fabric-climbing robot Clothbot wants nothing more than to explore the surface of your jeans or jacket. The robot, presented at last week's IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Minnesota, is designed to grip cloth between a pair of wheels and use the resulting wrinkle to roll its way up any piece of relatively loose and rough-textured clothing. Judging by the video, it has no trouble with cotton jackets or jeans; it can even turn by shifting its wheels and rebalance using an omnidirectional tail.
Clothbot was designed by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. It's basically a proof of concept, but the developers suggest that it could be used as a toy, a method of "body inspection," or a literally mobile phone that climbs around on your shoulder while you talk.