By Evan Ackerman
It may surprise you to hear that our little lizard friends the geckos are useful for far more than selling auto insurance. In fact, they’ve given rise to a whole new species of robots that are capable of climbing stuff. The latest version of Stanford’s StickyBot is absolutely geckotastic, and at 300 grams, can climb glass at 4 centimeters per second:
It’s especially impressive how the robot peels its toes up just like real geckos do. One of the biggest problems with duplicating gecko toes is that they stick to everything so well that it’s hard to get them to UNstick, which is one of the big reasons that we haven’t seen more geckostick tech. Plus, since everything sticks to it, it gets very dirty very quickly.
Check out another climbing bot after the jump.
When I say that geckos can climb stuff, I’m using the word “stuff” in the most technical, deliberate sense because the neat thing about geckos is that they can climb just about anything. In fact, the more slippery the service, the more sticky the gecko gets. Geckos are quite the little molecular chemists, taking advantage of Van Der Waals forces, which cause individual molecules to stick together. Carnegie Mellon’s WaalBot puts geckostick pads on wheels, making it faster and more maneuverable (albeit slightly less cool looking) than the Stanford StickyBot:
Geckotape itself has been in the works for some time (years, in fact). Besides getting dirty and losing it’s stick quickly, it’s expensive to produce, since it requires lots of what are essentially nanostructures to work properly. Of course, that means it’s only a matter of time, before you too can slip on some boots and gloves and be Geckoman.