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Robo-Gecko Climbs Glass 143

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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  • Hrm.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BenHoltz ( 909754 ) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @07:28PM (#15390498)
    Well.. if they had a camera.... they could spy on people in the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas...
  • by P3NIS_CLEAVER ( 860022 ) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @07:39PM (#15390566) Journal
    It was pretty cool, at Cal-Tech the gravity detector's mirrors were so flat that they didn't need adhesive to fix them in place.
  • Speed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by majaman ( 958076 ) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @08:03PM (#15390689)
    It didn't mimic the speed of a Gecko, though. That thing was dog slow, and about as sticky as a toy dart shot on a brick wall. Or a real dart for that matter.

    Otherwise it was kinda cool.

  • Re:Obligatory (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @08:12PM (#15390730) Homepage Journal
    It could be like Aerogel.

    Basically a dry foam covering on the wall which could leave prints from whatever tries to climb it.
    Because the surface will be fragile there would be nothing to get a grip on so it would fall, its like us trying to climb a sand-dune.

    You could even get a spray on compound and touchup bits which get disturbed.
  • by ystar ( 898731 ) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @08:20PM (#15390764)
    Glass is pretty rough stuff on a molecular level though, and there are so many varieties of it and methods of polishing the surface of glass - teflon however, with such a low surface energy, would have been a much more revealing test. On another (slightly OT) note, it's a shame to see military applications first in line to be mentioned. I don't mean to downplay their importance in bankrolling many innovative technologies and applications but for possible wartime uses to be implied between the lines after every new discovery has to play some influence on how Americans (and brits to a lesser extent) view war - something other than atrocious.
  • by Serapth ( 643581 ) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @08:44PM (#15390858)
    Frankly, I would always rather see a machine killed over a human. Sadly, in military thinking im the exception to the norm. It really does boil down to total cost of ownership ( TOC ) like in any other business. That depresses me greatly, but point blank the military assigns a value to each "asset" and acts accordingly. To use a horrible example, if the military had to chose between sacraficing an empty billion dollar aircraft carrier or a dozen troops, we both know how they will choose.

    But I am both happy with any technology that saves or prevents the loss of human life ( on either side of the conflict to be honest ) and to know that some people out there know that first off, we have a military in Canada and secondly, they understand the contributions we do infact make. I would say 99% of Americans dont realize Canada sent troops to both Veitnam and Korea, let alone the fact that we do infact have special forces ( yes... Canada actually has special forces... ) in Iraq as we speak.

    Bravo to you, and I hope your experiences along side the Canadian army were good ones.
  • dusty, sticky feet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by justthisdude ( 779510 ) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @09:54PM (#15391079)
    I saw a presentation on this work last year. The concept of tiny hairs sticking to surfaces is not difficult. The tricky part is keeping the hairs clean, because they stick to EVERYTHING, quickly develop a coating of dust and stop sticking. Scientists have yet to mimick the self-cleaning properties of Gecko feet as they curl off the surface after each step. Until they do, robo-geckos will not function long except in a well-scrubbed lab.
  • by caitsith01 ( 606117 ) on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @10:04PM (#15391110) Journal
    Namely, the Register, who have been mapping out the links in the global robo-conspiracy for some time now: []

    A very amusing read...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, 2006 @11:02PM (#15391359)
    nah, it's likely he's totally correct. Gauge blocks [] can be rung/wrung together just by sliding them, and.. well.. good luck pulling a set in good condition apart.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @12:55AM (#15391775)
    I assume you are aware that glass is in fact a liquid at room temp
    Not in this room - since I am not on fire. Glass is a glass - a disordered state that could be considered to be similar to an incredibly dense liquid that isn't moving around if you want to use an analogy - but remember it is an analogy. Labelling silicon dioxide dioxide glass as a liquid is an oversimplification possibly used by science teachers talking to young children - in all other situations it is just wrong.

    Someone will probably bring up the old glass windows with thick bits at the bottom as an incorrect example of glass flowing (creeping) over time at room temperature. Consider - if you are a very clever person building a Cathedral with very large heavy glass windows of varying cross section, which end would you put at the bottom? The float glass method we use today was not around centuries ago, so builders did not have the nice panes of glass we have today.

    The disordered glassy state is also possible in metals and can have some advantages - for instance in an iron based glass the magnetic properties are very good and the strength is high. These materials are made with the right mixture of elements and a very rapid cooling rate (molten to solid in milliseconds) and are not stable at room temperature - but are called "metastable" because it will take centuries at room temperature to diffuse into the stable crystalline structure.

    One last thing - crystalline solids like lead alloys flow too with a high enough temperature and stress - like big lead organ pipes hundreds of years old or high pressure steam tubing over a few years. You don't need the glassy structure for creep to occur.

  • by FirienFirien ( 857374 ) on Wednesday May 24, 2006 @06:27AM (#15392725) Homepage
    Dirt, and itself: [] has details and pictures of the progress as of 2003; the material worked in the short term, but got clogged with dirt as you mentioned... and the setae stuck to themselves, as can be seen in the second picture there.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost