Strong Little Robots With Gecko Technology

If you need to build a robot to carry something, you need a bit motor, right? Not so with these tiny robots out of Stanford’s Biomimetic Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory. One of these 12g MicroTugs can drag a 600g mug of coffee across a table, or even a 12kg weight. According to the authors, it’s a, ‘capability … comparable to a human dragging a blue whale.’ Square-cube law notwithstanding, of course.

What makes these little robots so strong? It’s not the actuators; it’s their feet. On the bottom of this robot is a material that uses mechanical anisotropic adhesion, a fancy material that only sticks to flat surfaces when it’s being pulled in a specific direction.

The best description of this material inspired by gecko feet would be this video, also from the Stanford BDML lab. It’s a neat material that we’ll probably find in Post-It notes in a decade, and with a single motor, a tiny robot can lift thousands of times its own body weight.

Videos below. Thanks [Adrian] for the tip.

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Stanford’s stickybot3

Stickybot has gone through a pretty radical upgrade.  You may recall the gecko looking glass walking bot from all over the net. While it was pretty cool, the technology has gone much further. Not only is it designed to look like a gecko, the feet are actually made to adhere to surfaces in the same manner. They are using an adhesive system based off Van Der Waals forces.  Though the stickybot 3 doesn’t walk yet,  the feet are already impressive. Look how little of the foot is actually making contact with the glass. See how easily he can remove and re-adhere it? Simply amazing.