Aaron Parness, engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, studied how geckos hang upside down and developed a substance which uses tiny lizard-like hairs to grip the surface. The material is adorned with tiny synthetic hairs, which are much smaller in comparison to the human hair.
So, in order to create next-generation robots, used for space exploration, the US space agency turned its sight towards geckos.
It seems that the prototype robot was able to handle and stick to a 10 kg cube, and a person weighing 100 kg. This test was conducted in a zero-gravity environment by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which seems to have successfully employed its “gecko grippers.” Moreover, even though the adhesive was tested under severe conditions, it remained strong, whereas the newly developed grippers are capable of supporting approximately 150 Newtons of force.
It seems that a number of 30,000 successful attempts were carried out, in a stick-and-unstick cycle.
This newly developed material can soon be put to use on the International Space Station (ISS).
In order to stick to and hang upside down on walls, geckos use the hairs on their tiny feet. So, Geckos are lizards which display toe pads covered with a multitude of tiny bristles that adhere to smooth vertical surfaces and allow them to hang from walls, too.
The synthetic hairs from the material above-mentioned form an electrical field, as electrons around an atom.
In order for the electrical fields here in question to obtain the highest degree of stickiness, they are manipulated by the effect known as “van der Waals force.”
It is remarkable how the sticky effect lasts and can be reused endlessly, while it persists at pressures and different temperatures. It is also immune to intense radiation.
It seems that the “Lemur 3” climbing robot is also currently being developed by the US space agency.
It seems that the next generation robot will be capable of climbing on the outside of space crafts, carry out space inspections more thoroughly, and, moreover, grab damaged satellites to repair them. All this thanks to the gecko-inspired technology, which permits the grippers to seize those objects, via thousands of electrically-charged “follicles”.
Photo Credits nationalgeographic.com