Feeds

Behold: The Gecko-robot wall-climbing tank!

Does whatever a spider-pig (lizard) can

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Vid Boffins have taken their inspiration from the gecko to develop a tank robot that can scale completely smooth walls and shuffle along ceilings.

Researchers from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, looked at the little sticky pads on the toes of geckos and recreated the van der Waals forces - very weak, attractive forces that occur between molecules - to get their tiny tank making like Spider-Man.

The toe pads, which are dry and sticky, were recreated in the lab using the material polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and manufactured to contain very small mushroom cap shapes that were 17 micrometres wide and 10 micrometres high.

"While van der Waals forces are considered to be relatively weak, the thin, flexible overhang provided by the mushroom cap ensures that the area of contact between the robot and the surface is maximised," said lead researcher Jeff Krahn.

"The adhesive pads on geckos follow this same principle by utilising a large number of fibres, each with a very small tip. The more fibres a gecko has in contact, the greater attachment force it has on a surface."

Their study, published today in Smart Materials and Structures, offers an alternative to magnets, suction cups, spines and claws that boffins have stuck onto robots trying, and often failing, to get them up and down smooth surfaces like glass and plastic.

The researchers made it a tank-like robot so that it would have a simplified mechanical design and could be easily expanded if you need to increase the load the robot is carrying.

"With an adequate power supply, our robot is capable of functioning fairly independently when it encounters larger-scale objects such as boxes or walls. However, we are still developing a control strategy to ensure the robot is capable of fully autonomous functionality," Krahn said.

A video of their efforts is below. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.