Fabricated by a research team in Canada, the gecko robot can easily cross through a vertical surface. This mechanism (of sticking) is brought about by means of dry microscopic toe hair called the setae. Christened as Abigaille, the bot weighs around 240 gram.
The six-legged climbing bot project is indeed inspired from the way lizards glue and walk effortlessly on walls, of course without leaving any trace. Setae or the microscopic hairs when placed on a vertical surface, interacts with the plane creating a molecular attraction known as the van der Waals force. These hairs are only 100-200 nanometers in diameter, which means nearly thousand times thinner than a human hair. It moves at a speed of 24 millimeters per minute, which looks quite promising with respect to its future deployment.
Developer Henrey notes this technology would easily replace the current adhesive methods like sticky tapes, Velcro or magnets that happen to be not so suitable elements for space environments.
Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) envision of setting it out on ISS for maintenance operations. The work is still under progress for graduating the ‘machine lizard’ for the spacewalks. Although its dexterity need not to be questioned as each of its six legs have 4 degrees of freedom and can smoothly shift positions between horizontal to vertical and vice –versa. However, it is put under observation for zero gravity conditions. According to Henrey,
It’s very expensive to upgrade hardware once it is up in space so the idea would be to fly a more general robot in the first place. This could then be adapted through software upgrades for different tasks that weren’t anticipated at the start of the project.
There is no limitation when it comes to imagination and I assume same goes with technology. Time is not far when technology will eclipse imagination. Totally in awe!