What will happen to high climbers? The same thing that happened to the ice man, tv repair men and buggy whip manufacturers. On top of that, the climbers will live out the rest of their days with much lower risk jobs!
The real question is, what kinds of jobs are CREATED by this technology. Electrical engineers, Mechanical engineers, programmers, fabricators, materials scientists, ...
I have seen a magnetic surface inspection "thing", and it does appear to hold on very well. The vacuum adhered robot would be much more flexible as to what it could climb on, but I can visualize a real problem if the power fails unexpectedly. That is a challenge that would need to be dealt with somehow.
Robots could be designed for a large range of climbing operations, possibly including window washing on high buildings. So there is an existing area where robots could indeed provide a real benefit.
Like Greg, I was also curious and a bit skeptical about the holding technologies, both vacuum and magnetic, under various conditions. What about rain and sleet and snow?, although the vacuum seal does sound pretty strong. But like Jack, I wonder about the advance of non-ferrous metals.
I also wanted to say thanks for joining this discussions. It's great to get answers from the experts. So the model show uses magneting technology to climb the fins while you have other models that can climb non-magnetic surfaces?
I've seen a couple shows demonstating how maintainance is done on these towers and the ability to use a robot would definitely be a way to get more done. No need to call people down due to the wind if a robot is doing the work.
All of the current systems are battery powered and have a 4 hour continous run time. The climb rate is up to 753 inches per minute, or 3,780 ft per hour on our fastest robot. There are many other variables such as control range, but essentially our limitation is the height of the structure. We could convert the system to be tethered as well limiting us to that length, but currently there is no need.