Geico Gecko's New Job

We have all see the green little lizard on TV – “give him 15 minutes and he can save you 15% or more on auto insurance.”  While I see major savings in my pocket, this commercial may have inspired scientists in British Columbia to design a new robot.

Earlier this week, researchers Jeff Krahn and Simon Fraser of the University in Burnaby B.C., showed off their “gecko-inspired” tank-like robot on YouTube.  Using a special sticky material to scale vertical walls the robot navigated both a horizontal and vertical plexiglass surfaces. You have too look real close to see the microscopic tank treads that are made to imitate the stickiness of a gecko’s feet. Krahn and Fraser estimate that this technology could be utilized to inspect pipes, building interiors, airplanes, and even search & rescue operations.

Geckos have hair on heir feet that are made from a compound that interacts with surfaces using a “Van der Waals force” to create an attraction between molecules. Essentially the Van der Waals force enables the gecko’s feet to act like suction cups or magnets to adhere to the smoothest vertical surfaces. Krahn & Fraser’s mimics the gecko’s Van der Waals forces through a brushed on liquid called “polydimethylsiloxane.” Note a similar technology called StickyBot was implemented by a team at the University of Stanford (see Robot of the Day).

The ‘Gecko-Bot’ may be the first Ad inspired robot, but Krahn promises that their next invention, a robotic spider, could be called The-Peter-Parker-Bot?

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