Grabit Inc., a spinoff company from SRI International that commercializes electroadhesion technology, received Series A round funding. Formation 8 leads the investment group, which also includes ABB Technology Ventures (ATV) and NIKE Inc.

Electroadhesion-based material-handling products offer a technique of holding or grasping objects with minimal mechanical actuation. The electrically controllable adhesion technology, which operates with ultra-low power consumption, was developed and patented within the Robotics Program at SRI International. It enables a flexible, general-purpose platform technology that’s able to handle myriad objects, shapes, sizes, and materials with smooth, rough, or dusty surfaces.

Looking at the technology, electroadhesion uses electrostatic forces between the substrate material (e.g., wall surface) and electroadhesive surface. Electroadhesive pads consist of conductive electrodes that are deposited on the surface of a polymer. When alternate positive and negative charges are induced on adjacent electrodes, the electric field sets up opposite charges on the substrate. This causes electrostatic adhesion between the electrodes and the induced charges on the substrate.

Beyond industrial automation, military, and consumer applications, electroadhesion can address a range of biomedical needs. These include “sticky pads” used in bandages for sensitive skin, human tissue holders for surgeries, and bleeding prevention bags. Grabit also offers “grippers” and “traction enhancement devices” for lab automation in the medical field.