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Gecko Robot

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Uploaded on May 29, 2006

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.

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