Robot inspired by geckos

Nature is amazing. All the time, amazing discoveries are being made about the natural world and how living things are able to do

Nature is amazing.

All the time, amazing discoveries are being made about the natural world and how living things are able to do incredible things in order to survive and thrive.

And while the sticky foot of the gecko is not a new discovery, it has recently been put to some useful applications in the world of science and technology.

Geckos are small lizards common to warm climates throughout the world. Many species of gecko are well-known for having specialized pads on their feet that allow them to walk vertically, or even upside-down along many surfaces.

In the wild, geckos use this ability to scamper up trees, large rocks and other such surfaces in pursuit of insects, the staple and favourite food of most geckos.

But, this ability has also helped them adapt to life in areas populated by humans.

In urban areas, geckos often live as welcome squatters or even as valuable pets for their wall-crawling and insect-hunting abilities.

Insects are pests, and (as anyone who has ever wielded a fly-swatter knows,) can hide in places difficult to reach (like the ceiling), so a gecko is often a practical solution to the insect infestation problem in a home.

Now, the European Space Agency (ESA), working with researchers from Canada, have developed a robot designed to crawl across the hulls of spacecraft inspired by the foot of the gecko.

Instead of hunting insects, the robot was designed to maintain the outside of spaceships in flight in the future.

The robot, which has been nicknamed Abigaille, has its own special pads on its feet that were inspire by geckoes.

Mike Henrey, the research team’s leader, calls the process of taking engineering solutions from the natural world ‘biomimicry’ and said Abigaille is a perfect example of this. He said the robot is able to climb walls and work upside down, just like geckos, because robot’s feet are covered with dry micro-fibres modeled after the feet of geckos.

Henrey said that ESA is interested in dry adhesives because other adhesives, like sticky tape, Velcro and magnets would not be suitable.

Tape loses its adhesive properties over time, Velcro requires two surfaces to hook together and magnets will not stick to composite parts of spacecraft.

Having feet in place of wheels or other mobility methods is also an advantage for Abigaille.

Henrey said that the climbing robot is more dexterous than a wheeled robot and its six legs each have four degrees of freedom. This means it could work in more varied environments.

Abigaille has yet to be thoroughly tested, but initial research is promising showing that its adhesive abilities work well in simulated zero-gravity environments.

While the ‘gecko-bot’ wall-crawling abilities are limited to smooth, man-made surfaces for now,  research is continuing to improve this performance.

 

Just Posted

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported five additional deaths Wednesday due to COVID-19. (File photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer at 169 active cases of COVID-19

Province set to move into Stage 2 of reopening Thursday

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Grade 12 students at Wetaskiwin Composite High School took place in the annual water fight off school property on June 11, 2021. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Graduating students in Wetaskiwin throw water fight after being told it could result in suspension

Students were told their participation could result in them being barred from graduation ceremonies.

Most Read