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Robo-Gecko Climbs Glass 143

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the going-up-the-slippery-slope-instead dept.
galactic_grub writes "Researchers at Stanford have developed a robot that mimics the extraordinary climbing skills of the Gecko. These creatures can climb sheer surfaces thanks to the intermolecular forces exerted by millions of tiny hairs their feet, called setae. The robot, Stickybot, has polymer pads on its feed with synthetic setae. Check out the video of it climbing up a sheet of glass."
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Robo-Gecko Climbs Glass

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  • by Serapth (643581) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @07:32PM (#15390523)
    Since its only a blurb, here is basically the article in full

    A GECKO-like robot with sticky feet could soon be scampering up a wall near you. See a video of the robot in action here (24MB mov file). Geckos can climb up walls and across ceilings thanks to the millions of tiny hairs, or setae, on the surface of their feet. Each of these hairs is attracted to the wall by an intermolecular force called the van der Waals force, and this allows the gecko's feet to adhere. Stickybot, developed by Mark Cutkosky and his team at Stanford University in California, has feet with synthetic setae made of an elastomer. These tiny polymer pads ensure a large area of contact between the feet and the wall, maximising the van der Waals stickiness. The Pentagon is interested in developing gecko-inspired climbing gloves and shoes. Cutkosky says a Stickybot-type robot would also make an adept planetary rover or rescue bot. Frankly, I cant believe this tech couldnt have been done already, even twenty or thirty years ago. I have to imagine we've had the tech to do adhesiveness on demand based on an external stimuli ( such as electricity ) for many years. We have had the ability when the opposite material is metal since atleast the beginning of the space race, but even sticking to any surface on demand shouldnt be too difficult.

    My question is, does the armies interest stem from creating an army of spidermen?
  • Re:Obligatory (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @07:41PM (#15390578)
    Slippery paint? If the forces are intermolecular, as tfa says, i don't think slippery would help. However, if the paint was in millions of thin layers (somehow), the first layer would be pulled off under the weight of the wearer, preventing them from getting a grip.
  • Re:Obligatory (Score:5, Informative)

    Just imagine the benefits to burglars, the next invention is going to have to be some very very slippery paint :)

    Already invented... you're looking for Fluoroplastic Paint [daikin.co.jp].

  • video url (Score:5, Informative)

    by user24 (854467) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @07:59PM (#15390665) Homepage
    the site's not loading for me in firefox (it says infinite redirect loop, though it works in *spit* MSIE)
    here's the video URL:
    http://bdml.stanford.edu/twiki/pub/Main/StickyBot/ Stickybot_040106.mov [stanford.edu]
  • by Oxen (879661) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @08:07PM (#15390710)
    It has only been in the last several years that scientists realized that gecko's use VDW forces to clime. It may seem obvious, but no one imagined that it would be possible to create enough VDW interactions to allow a large animal to stick to any surface. It works by simply increasing the surface contact to a ridiculous degree. What is amazing here is that this will work on any solid, clean surface. There are an extraordinary number of applications. Another huge benefit to this is that no energy is required to maintain adhesion.
  • by technoextreme (885694) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @08:17PM (#15390753)
    Frankly, I cant believe this tech couldnt have been done already, even twenty or thirty years ago. I have to imagine we've had the tech to do adhesiveness on demand based on an external stimuli ( such as electricity ) for many years. We have had the ability when the opposite material is metal since atleast the beginning of the space race, but even sticking to any surface on demand shouldnt be too difficult.

    http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2002/0 9/rfull/robots.html [berkeley.edu]
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/ch ronicle/archive/2000/06/19/MNC1005.DTL [sfgate.com]
    http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn3785 [newscientist.com]
    This isn't anything new. It just hasn't become useful enough to be adapted publicly.
  • Re:Obligatory (Score:3, Informative)

    by fossa (212602) <pat7@Nospam.gmx.net> on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @09:16PM (#15390968) Journal

    Chemically, Teflon is polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE, a carbon chain with flourine occupying all other bonding (polyethylene, one of the simplest synthetic polymers, is a carbon chain with hydrogens). The carbon-fluorine bond is particularly strong, resulting in the non-stick properties. I'd assume the chemical properties of Fluorplastic paint to be similar to those of PTFE. I recently read a newspaper article that gave light descriptions of how PTFE was bonded to various types of cooking ware (can't remember it... grr). I believe one method, prone to scratching from metal utensils, is to create a porous aluminum pan that PTFE strands then become physically entangled with. I wonder what strategy this paint is using. Presumably it's a PTFE-laced slurry, or perhaps it uses polymers similar to PTFE that have additional functional groups that can then bond to surfaces: PTFE on one side, sticky on the other?

  • by AndroidCat (229562) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @09:18PM (#15390976) Homepage
    No, I didn't know that. [ucr.edu]
  • Late April fools? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Slashcrunch (626325) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @10:00PM (#15391101) Homepage
    Anyone notice the date on the video? April 1st 2006. Could it just be small suction cups on a cool bot and not something more spactacular?

    Although i think this is a cool bot in itself, I never trust anything released on April 1st :)
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @10:37PM (#15391254) Homepage
    Cutkowsky has had this technology working for several years now. It's not just for glass; it works on many other building surfaces, too, like concrete walls. It doesn't require a smooth surface. They've had robots climbing up buildings at Stanford for a while now.

    Here's the web site for the project. [stanford.edu]

    They have a new and powerful fabrication technique, too. They use a stereolithography machine to make their parts, but they use it in an unusual way. They use a machine that's intended to make multicolored objects from several different colored materials, and load it up with materials with different physical and electrical properties. So they can make a one-piece 3D part with soft parts and hard parts, or insulating parts and conductive parts. This is the beginning of a whole new kind of fabrication, which is what Cutkowsky is really into.

  • by Wyrd01 (761346) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @09:27AM (#15393419)
    I assume you are aware that glass is in fact a liquid at room temp.

    I would like to point your attention to this article:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass#Glass_as_a_liqu id [wikipedia.org]

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