Robot with Gecko-like Treads Climbs Walls

Guest_Jim_* - November 7, 2011 12:14PM in Science & Technology

The gecko is a small lizard with the extraordinary ability of being able to climb on smooth surfaces, such as glass. This is accomplished with incredibly small fibers on the gecko’s toes that exploit van der Waals forces. Scientists have been trying to duplicate this ability with robots and have recently succeeded in making a tank-like robot that can drive up walls, and over corners. The key was engineering polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a plastic, with similar structures to the gecko’s fibers. The result is the Timeless Belt Climbing Platform, or TBCP-II, robot. The design of the robot allows for expansion of the unit, similar to adding cars onto a train, enabling the technology to be scaled to the size is needed to carry a load.