This is StickyBot, courtesy of Stanford University’s Biomimetics Dextrous Manipulation Laboratory in California. It’s a climbing robot in a class of robotics called biomimetics; robots that mimic properties found in nature such as the shape and locomotion of an animal. It’s one of the more interesting fields of robotics because of its sheer diversity. Animals and insects have evolved some ingenious solutions to problems like balance and locomotion, so it’s useful to copy them.
The aptly-named StickyBot is a gecko-like robot that can climb smooth surfaces using its feet, which are covered in small, dry rubbery hairs (called setae on the gecko) which provide enough surface tension for dry adhesion. While the original StickyBot has 4 toes per foot, the team at Stanford has created the SB2 which has only 2 toes per foot while still retaining its climbing ability.
Stanford University has been developing climbing robots in collaboration with other universities for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), including the SpinyBot and RiSE (both of which use micro-spines on feet for surface adhesion). These robots have a wide variety of military purposes including covert surveillance or as wireless transmitters linking units in the field. The Pentagon is even interested in using this technology on gloves and boots for soldiers. StickyBot appeared on TIME’s list of “Best Inventions 2006“.
Stanford University’s BDML