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Robo-Gecko Climbs Glass

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the going-up-the-slippery-slope-instead dept.

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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Hrm.... (2, Interesting)

BenHoltz (909754) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390498)

Well.. if they had a camera.... they could spy on people in the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas...

Re:Hrm.... (1)

DivineOmega (975982) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390515)

Ingenius application of the technology there.

Re:Hrm.... (1)

Serapth (643581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390551)

Ahhh... here comes the next generation of internet voyeur pr0n! Aint technology a wonderful thing.

Re:Hrm.... (1)

Frobnicator (565869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391464)

I can hardly wait for that to be on ThinkGeek.

Imagine what you could do with a small, camera enabled remote controlled gecko toy. Just make sure that it has an LED chameleon-like skin. Beyond the Big Brother considerations, you could mix the draw of voyeurism and the joy of being a total geek.

What more could any geek want?

Re:Hrm.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15391020)

Are ScuttleMonkey and Zonk the only janitors of slashdot today? Where is Taco? Hopefully the rest of the crew got fired. That gay cock-sucker Timothy should be the first to go. He's a petulant child and an asshole the size of goatse.

Keep up the good work Zonk and ScuttleMonkey! My faith in Slash is restored!

Re:Hrm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15391665)

TACO!!! Cut that shit out and get back to work!

The Article. Shocked this is new (2, Informative)

Serapth (643581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390523)

Since its only a blurb, here is basically the article in full

A GECKO-like robot with sticky feet could soon be scampering up a wall near you. See a video of the robot in action here (24MB mov file). 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. Frankly, I cant believe this tech couldnt have been done already, even twenty or thirty years ago. I have to imagine we've had the tech to do adhesiveness on demand based on an external stimuli ( such as electricity ) for many years. We have had the ability when the opposite material is metal since atleast the beginning of the space race, but even sticking to any surface on demand shouldnt be too difficult.

My question is, does the armies interest stem from creating an army of spidermen?

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (1)

DivineOmega (975982) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390547)

"does the armies interest stem from creating an army of spidermen?"

The military and intelligence applications for robots like these could be immense. No doubt there would be a huge invasion of privacy outrage if people knew these robots were being used for spying of some sorts.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (1)

Serapth (643581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390570)

Thing is though, the military already has drones that can basically hover silently for hours and are the extremely small. I dont really see what the advantage of a wall hugger version would be unless 1) the ability to stick to the wall doesnt require any energy to maintain or 2) they are sufficently cheaper.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390591)

Sticky, wall climing, pilotless mini-tanks.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (5, Funny)

SurturZ (54334) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390784)

I'd buy one, but I am sure the robo-gecko will be full of bugs.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (1)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390953)

Where are my mod points when I need them? Well played Clerks, well played.

Pick #1 (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390819)

The feet are unpowered polymer pads covered with spikes, essentially. That doesn't require power to maintain the grip.

Moving, as you no doubt noticed, requires that the pads be peeled backwards. Thousands of microscopic spikes provide tremendous traction, but it isn't going to impact tyres that much (yet). Perhaps climbing apparatus will see this material soon.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (3, Funny)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390573)


I agree. I don't understand what's involved to make this possible, ego, it must be easy!

Build me one of them search engine thingies. We'll go up against Google!

Re: The Article. Shocked this is new (3, Insightful)

Graboid (975267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390574)

No spidermen, but they're certainly interested in small devices with sensors (cameras/chemicals) that can scale walls, crawl through small spaces, and go where no man has gone before.

They also mention the rescue bot - that sounds like a great application for a collapsed building.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15390576)

My question is, does the armies interest stem from creating an army of spidermen?

Only if they have fricken... ahh forget it.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (5, Informative)

Oxen (879661) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390710)

It has only been in the last several years that scientists realized that gecko's use VDW forces to clime. It may seem obvious, but no one imagined that it would be possible to create enough VDW interactions to allow a large animal to stick to any surface. It works by simply increasing the surface contact to a ridiculous degree. What is amazing here is that this will work on any solid, clean surface. There are an extraordinary number of applications. Another huge benefit to this is that no energy is required to maintain adhesion.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (1)

shoelace_822695 (789021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390893)

What is amazing here is that this will work on any solid, clean surface.
I assume you are aware that glass is in fact a liquid at room temp.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (2, Informative)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390976)

No, I didn't know that. [ucr.edu]

A common misconception about glass (4, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390732)

My question is, does the armies interest stem from creating an army of spidermen?

I doubt the Army is interested in wall-climbing robots to make SpiderMen. More likely, they want man-portable devices that can climb up walls with sensors (for detection/observation), thin lead lines and anchors (to anchor a climbing rope that humans with packs can then climb), and so that they can scale up to hard-to-reach observation posts with remote-controlled sniper rifles.

Or maybe they just want us to think they actually care about Afghanistan, instead of ignore it so that only the Canucks and Brits are fighting the Real War.

Either way, I don't think we're likely to see a new commercial like this: "Be an Army of One! Climb Towers, Leap from Buildings, Spin Webs, and use your Spidey-Senses to detect enemy soldiers! Join the Spider Marines today!"

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (1)

Serapth (643581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390776)

Mod points for being off topic be damned, Im just delighted to see that you know Canadians are picking up the slack in Afghanistan. Im not kidding in any way here, its heartening to see that people notice our small but meaningful contribution. Many people based on Canada for not supporting Iraq, but seemed to forget that we have our people dying in Afghanistan as part of the war on terror too.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390824)

I'm not your average American, I actually served in the Canadian Army, mostly in mountain troops, and thus my comments on the robo gecko technology uses for military applications. But, yes, I am a Yank. Heard about the combat death of the Canadian soldier who died last week, think she was from Alberta, in a combat MOC as I understand.

Still, wouldn't you rather it was a robot gecko climbing up there first, rather than a person? Especially if it slips or falls or is shot down ...

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (1, Interesting)

Serapth (643581) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15391097)

Frankly, I would always rather see a machine killed over a human.

shame on you for putting humans over machines on slashdot! kill all humans!
I'm gonna build my own slashdot, with hookers and blackjack. In fact, forget the slashdot.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (2, Insightful)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390733)

Frankly, I cant believe this tech couldnt have been done already, even twenty or thirty years ago. I have to imagine we've had the tech to do adhesiveness on demand based on an external stimuli ( such as electricity ) for many years. We have had the ability when the opposite material is metal since atleast the beginning of the space race, but even sticking to any surface on demand shouldnt be too difficult.

The big problem with gecko gloves or any other application of this principle is keeping them clean. The same force that lets this material stick to glass makes it an absolute magnet for dirt.

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (1)

FuzzyFox (772046) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390783)

How do the geckos keep their pads clean?

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15390920)

Shedding, maybe?

Re:The Article. Shocked this is new (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391850)

How do the geckos keep their pads clean?

I don't know for sure, but one option that biological geckos have that robots don't is that they can let the pads wear out and grow back, continually renewing the surface.

Actually, this isn't new. It's been done before (2, Informative)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390753)

Frankly, I cant believe this tech couldnt have been done already, even twenty or thirty years ago. I have to imagine we've had the tech to do adhesiveness on demand based on an external stimuli ( such as electricity ) for many years. We have had the ability when the opposite material is metal since atleast the beginning of the space race, but even sticking to any surface on demand shouldnt be too difficult.

http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2002/0 9/rfull/robots.html [berkeley.edu]
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/ch ronicle/archive/2000/06/19/MNC1005.DTL [sfgate.com]
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn3785 [newscientist.com]
This isn't anything new. It just hasn't become useful enough to be adapted publicly.

Sheer energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15390527)

"These creatures can climb sheer surfaces thanks to the intermolecular forces exerted by millions of tiny hairs their feet, called setae."

They can climb a pair of nylons?

A new weapon? (5, Funny)

Rendo (918276) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390533)

They could be used as small weapons filled with say gas to knock people out. People would all be like, oh look a cool gecko-ooo ARRGGHHH *hack hack hack..... thud*

Re:A new weapon? (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390999)

Why not have it fire a tangle-web net that sticks to everything? (Including the net itself to snare things that it can't stick to.)

Re:A new weapon? (1)

Rendo (918276) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391187)

Uh, that's sort of interesting. I'd rather see it fling poo from a rectal cavity that contains a brown substance similar to that goo the police use to trap criminals. Of course that'd make monkey's obsolete since poo flinging is all a monkey was bred to do. :/

I knew it! (1, Funny)

minitual (966089) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390536)

I knew that little thing from the Geico commercials wasn't real.

This proves nothing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15390674)

TFA says this thing can climb a glass surface, but I bet it still doesn't do the robot. Call me when it can do that and then I'll believe that Gekko thingy is fake. Nice try commie neo-luddite. This is America where we believe in Capitalism. We don't live in an atheistic Marxian utopia. Our businesses always tell the truth. Our products are better -- Always. They don't need to lie. And that brings us to tonight's word.

Insurance

I'm a big fan of the insurance industry. It's like play a state mandated lottery. But all one needs to do to win is have an accident. And like any good game the higher the stakes the more you can win. Fall off a ladder and hit your head on the floor and you may win $2000 and two weeks off from work. Slip on a Chaquita banna then try to regain your balance by running up a Little Giant Ladder then fall off then crack your head on a Craftsman tool box; you can more than double your winnings to a few months of uninterrupted sleep followed by a lump sum cash settlement of $15000. This scenario also gives you the opportunity to try your luck at another popular state sactioned lottery by suing Chaquita, Little Giant Ladder Incorporated LLC and Sears.

Now, I'm not much of a gambling man so I keep my accidents small and simple. Every month I back my stretched H2 over my neighbors mailbox. While Mrs. Lambo strikes my mean machine with her Lousiville Slugger I get out of my car and accidently fall on her driveway cutting my chin. Every month I receive a check for $5000 from Quick-Crete, Louisvill Slugger, the US Postal Service and Mrs. Lambo herself. And my H2 gets fixed free of charge by Geico because ballbat marks look a lot like hail damage.

Insurance is a great game and the best thing to happen to the American people. Although, they do have competition from this great internet company in which all I have to do is send five people one dollar each and then I become rich. I don't trust this scheme though. There's too much work. So, America, pay your insurance premium. Pay whatever they want. Stick with a proven winner. American insurance companies just want you to win.

Obligatory (4, Funny)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390545)

I for one welcome our van der Waals force utilising Stickybot overloards.

Seriously though, FTA "The Pentagon is interested in developing gecko-inspired climbing gloves and shoes." I want some of those, these if ever actually created (not sure what issues here would be but I assume mass, surface area and gravity would play in there somewhere) would have a huge impact on normal life. Just imagine the benefits to burglars, the next invention is going to have to be some very very slippery paint :)

Re:Obligatory (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15390578)

Slippery paint? If the forces are intermolecular, as tfa says, i don't think slippery would help. However, if the paint was in millions of thin layers (somehow), the first layer would be pulled off under the weight of the wearer, preventing them from getting a grip.

Re:Obligatory (1)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390678)

We'll Just invent better molecules for our "slippery paint"(TM) damn you for spotting obvious flaws in humorous posts!

As a point, if the paint was in millions of thin layers (somehow), wouldn't the first layer be pulled off when anything exerting a strong enough force interacted with it, like wind or water on it surface?

Re:Obligatory (2, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390730)

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.

Re:Obligatory (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390589)

> I for one welcome our van der Waals force utilising Stickybot overlords.

...and I'd like to remind them that as an open-source HTML rendering engine, I could be useful in convincing people to save a bunch of money on their car insurance!

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15390723)

Does anybody here REALLY wonder why this guy can't get a date this friday night?

Come on... show of hands, please.

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15391166)

> Does anybody here REALLY wonder why this guy can't get a date this friday night?

What is this "date" of which you speak?

/does the robot

Re:Obligatory (4, Informative)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390612)

Just imagine the benefits to burglars, the next invention is going to have to be some very very slippery paint :)

Already invented... you're looking for Fluoroplastic Paint [daikin.co.jp] .

Re:Obligatory (1)

XdevXnull (905214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390667)

last I heard, the only things scientists have found that these setae wont stick to is Teflon(tm). I'm not sure how different that stuff is chemically from what you're talking about. The real problem, of course, would be getting the fluoroplastic paint to stick to your house.

Re:Obligatory (2, Informative)

fossa (212602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390968)

Chemically, Teflon is polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE, a carbon chain with flourine occupying all other bonding (polyethylene, one of the simplest synthetic polymers, is a carbon chain with hydrogens). The carbon-fluorine bond is particularly strong, resulting in the non-stick properties. I'd assume the chemical properties of Fluorplastic paint to be similar to those of PTFE. I recently read a newspaper article that gave light descriptions of how PTFE was bonded to various types of cooking ware (can't remember it... grr). I believe one method, prone to scratching from metal utensils, is to create a porous aluminum pan that PTFE strands then become physically entangled with. I wonder what strategy this paint is using. Presumably it's a PTFE-laced slurry, or perhaps it uses polymers similar to PTFE that have additional functional groups that can then bond to surfaces: PTFE on one side, sticky on the other?

But! (1)

Instine (963303) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390661)

Will I be able to park my flying car on windows?

Re:Obligatory (2, Funny)

gijoel (628142) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390760)

Seriously though, FTA "The Pentagon is interested in developing gecko-inspired climbing gloves and shoes."

At last I'll have something to go with my spider man underpants.

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15390905)

You think vaseline or mineral oil might be a good defense? How about some soapy water?

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15391475)

Famous last words: Who put talcum powder on the windows!? AAAAAaaaaaahhhh!!! SPLAT!!!

ni66a (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15390564)

they're gone Mac Are tied up in MOVIE [iMdb.com] reciprocating HaNd...don't About a project your own beer

Flat things do it too (4, Interesting)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390566)

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.

Re:Flat things do it too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15391266)

Maybe it wasn't the mirrors, maybe the surface that they stuck the mirrors to was flat.

Re:Flat things do it too (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15391359)

nah, it's likely he's totally correct. Gauge blocks [wikipedia.org] can be rung/wrung together just by sliding them, and.. well.. good luck pulling a set in good condition apart.

Hmmm... (4, Funny)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390622)

Could this become part of a Geico commercial?

Utility gecko (5, Funny)

neuro.slug (628600) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390638)

Maybe it can climb their server racks to figure out what's causing the burning plastic smell.

Mirrors, anyone?

-- n

I know that smell - (1)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391030)

Its the mysterious blue smoke that runs all electronics. If they've let the mysterious blue smoke out, that's it for the servers. They'll never work again.

Re:Utility gecko (2)

linuxpyro (680927) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391031)

Here ya go. [whatsmykarma.com]

Re:Utility gecko (1)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391216)

Mirrors? Being glass, they can climb those too.

video url (4, Informative)

user24 (854467) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390665)

the site's not loading for me in firefox (it says infinite redirect loop, though it works in *spit* MSIE)
here's the video URL:
http://bdml.stanford.edu/twiki/pub/Main/StickyBot/ Stickybot_040106.mov [stanford.edu]

Re:video url (1)

majaman (958076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390707)

Worked for me with Firefox/1.5.0.3. Do you have Fasterfox on a high setting? I've seen problems on some sites with that.

Re:video url (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15391053)

FF1.0.3 on XP home, no fasterfox... odd... i've seen it on a few other sites, too.

list of extensions:
adblock+
calculator
fireftp
ODFreader
pagezoom
updatenotifier
menu editor
suncult
nightly testers
gmailspace
gmail manager
pdf-download
restartfox
bugmenot
slashdotter
imagezoom
GM
lasttab
statusclock
UA switcher
adsense notifier
scrapbook
savewithURL
undoclosetab
duplicatetab

nothing I can see that would cause that sort of behavior - any ideas? anyone else getting this?

Re:video url (1)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391153)

I often get it at sites that get pissy about not being able to set a cookie. They will go into an infinite redirect loop and eventually hit the redirection limit. Usuaully I can just allow the cookie for the session and it will work fine.

Re:video url (1)

Mahou (873114) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390770)

rofl, you gotta love the "Aaaagh" as it begins to fall.

Speed (4, Interesting)

majaman (958076) | more than 8 years ago | (#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:Speed (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390855)

The issue was with prying a foot off the glass--it took a fair bit of force, and sometimes the recoil afterward was enough to free a second foot. A more robust implementation with the same pad system would determine whether an additional foot was freed and reattach both.

wow nice editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15390706)

hairs on their feet...
i wonder if its feed are similar to the concept of feet

anything new? (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390752)

besides adding this stuff to a robogeico?

Last of heard of this technique it had a problem in that it gets dirty VERY quickly and starts losing its sticky :(

Having to hire a window washing crew everytime i want to play spiderman downtown gets too expensive and really slows down those rescues :(

In other news.... (4, Funny)

lottameez (816335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390762)

Several women at Stanford's Delta Sigma Theta sorority have reported sightings of strange reptilian creatures crawling around and affixing themselves to the exterior windows of their campus bathroom facilities. Sally Railmane, a sophomore at the school, described a strange light burst, similar to a camera flash, coming from the window creatures as she stepped out of the shower this afternoon. "It was creepy" she said.

University officials were unavailable for comment.

cool but not cool enough (3, Interesting)

ystar (898731) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:cool but not cool enough (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390779)

becasue the military ahs the money for the research, no company will spend millions on a maybe. Once a product is succesfull, the US will get it's money back via tax dollars.

I would also like to point out that the trend has been for the military to get tools that are more effictive at getting a precise target. Which means fewer people killed on both sides.

The important question (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390786)

Can it offer me up to 50% off my car insurance?

Doomed (2, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390795)

Mark Cutkosky

Why, after seeing the mention of "Government" in that article, does that name look like Mark Cut Cost"-ky ?

Bad Plan, what are they thinking? (5, Funny)

JudgeFurious (455868) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390806)

It's bad enough knowing that we're getting closer every day to the moment when robots decide that we're just too much damned trouble to keep around but do we have to keep developing new things to make them impossible to escape from? Anyone else see this and start connecting the slashdot articles?

  There was the one about the Japanese chick robot followed by the similar South Korean model, then a little farther back we have our artificial "muscle".

  Combine those with the story a year or so back about the robots that power themselves by digesting organic matter and frankly all my best nightmares start out on Slashdot. I'll probably be in my 60's when the sexy Japanese carnivorous wall climbing robots with super strength come to get me.

Re:Bad Plan, what are they thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15390923)

I'll probably be in my 60's when the sexy Japanese carnivorous wall climbing robots with super strength come to get me.

Hey, I'm 60, and I would be VERY HAPPY if sexy
Japanese schoolgirl robots were coming to get me...

Others are aware of the conspiracy... (2, Interesting)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391110)

Namely, the Register, who have been mapping out the links in the global robo-conspiracy for some time now:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/science/rotm/ [theregister.co.uk]

A very amusing read...

Re:Bad Plan, what are they thinking? (1)

virgil_disgr4ce (909068) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391718)

I'll probably be in my 60's when the sexy Japanese carnivorous wall climbing robots with super strength come to get me.
Somehow I can't complain about that.

Power of the Gecko (4, Funny)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390814)

Not only can it render HTML, CSS, XML, SVG, W3C, MCP, MJB, DVD, BVD, and other TLAs, but it can climb walls, too!

I don't see that showing up in IE7! Hah!

Re:Power of the Gecko (2, Funny)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391001)

Not only can it render HTML, CSS, XML, SVG, W3C, MCP, MJB, DVD, BVD, and other TLAs, but it can climb walls, too!

Not only that, but it could save you 15% or more on your auto insurance!

All you need... (3, Funny)

Nineteen.Eleven (852341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390849)

...is a radioactive spider and you too can climb walls.

Yes but... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15390906)

It may climb walls, but can it also save you thousands on car insurance?

Re:Yes but... (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391014)

Never mind car insurance, what about robot insurance? [robotcombat.com] (Oh! They're everywhere!)

Gecko!! (1)

sunil99 (976020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390989)

Researchers at Stanford have developed a robot that mimics the extraordinary climbing skills of the Gecko.
Why firefox han't got this feature yet?

You're nicked! (2, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 8 years ago | (#15390993)

How well does this stuff grip slippery surfaces like beer bottles or oiled/sweaty human skin? There might be some interesting applications for gloves if it does.

my $0.02 (CDN) (0)

compro01 (777531) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391029)

i believe i remember having read about this sort of thing before.

if i remember correctly, the climbing bit is achieved by a combination of friction (between all the little hair things, there is a rather lot of surface area when they all lay sideways) and static cling. between those effects, this stuff can support a pretty fantastic amount of weight.

unless they've found a way around it, the major problem was the gunk (dirt and stuff) kept getting in amongst the hairs and clogging them up, thus eliminating the effect. maybe they found a way to clean the things, as real geckos do.

Re:my $0.02 (CDN) (BAD MODS) (4, Funny)

evilviper (135110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391781)

if i remember correctly, the climbing bit is achieved by a combination of friction (between all the little hair things, there is a rather lot of surface area when they all lay sideways) and static cling.

Didn't even bother to read the article, eh, my Candian friend?

"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."

It's not your comment that pisses me off, it's the fact that it got moderated up... BAD MODS! NO COOKIE!

My question... (1)

gkhan1 (886823) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391048)

My question is why can't this be done much more easily with suction instead? I mean like a hollow round thing you suck the air out of so you don't fall of. You see people in crime-movies all the time using that to remove glass they've just cut. That seems like a much more viable solution for a non-organic unit.

Carnegie Mellon nanorobotics (1)

eugeneiiim (852592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391069)

Something like this [cmu.edu] has already been done at the CMU nanorobotics lab.

dusty, sticky feet (3, Interesting)

justthisdude (779510) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Late April fools? (2, Informative)

Slashcrunch (626325) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391101)

Anyone notice the date on the video? April 1st 2006. Could it just be small suction cups on a cool bot and not something more spactacular?

Although i think this is a cool bot in itself, I never trust anything released on April 1st :)

The Amazing Geckoman (1)

tajgenie (932485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391177)

Remember when spiderman used to need to build webshooters, because he did not actually have the ability to make his own webbing? Well now he doesnt need the ability to climb walls! He just wears gloves and boots of this stuff, and he can climb walls! That and a bit of speed, and you the the Amazing Spiderman!

Yeah but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15391194)

can you get one on a cool crown! Look at him go! Look at him go!

Obligatory plug for the movie Madagascar [madagascar-themovie.com] .

This works even better than the article says (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391254)

Cutkowsky has had this technology working for several years now. It's not just for glass; it works on many other building surfaces, too, like concrete walls. It doesn't require a smooth surface. They've had robots climbing up buildings at Stanford for a while now.

Here's the web site for the project. [stanford.edu]

They have a new and powerful fabrication technique, too. They use a stereolithography machine to make their parts, but they use it in an unusual way. They use a machine that's intended to make multicolored objects from several different colored materials, and load it up with materials with different physical and electrical properties. So they can make a one-piece 3D part with soft parts and hard parts, or insulating parts and conductive parts. This is the beginning of a whole new kind of fabrication, which is what Cutkowsky is really into.

At Home Version (3, Funny)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391302)

These creatures can climb sheer surfaces thanks to the intermolecular forces exerted by millions of tiny hairs their feet, called setae.

I, for one, can't wait for the "at home" version.

Dirty feet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15391315)

What I don't uderstand is why the gecko's feet don't get dirty, losing its stickyness. I have played with them a lot as a child and never observed them licking their feet to clean them. They can run over dirt and up a wall, without pausing to clean their feet. So somehow, a gecko must be able to control the stickyness of their feet, allowing them to shed any dirt on the fly.

Finally... (2, Funny)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391321)

I can finish making my "spidy" suit....

It really uses... (1)

FlatCatInASlatVat (828700) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391424)

(sala) manDerWalls forces.

Oh the money spent... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15391796)

And in a further development, when questioned about the fact that these "revolutionary" feet look, act, and sound suspiciously like suction cups, the lead scientist ran out of the room, mumbling something about misleading names for racehorses...

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