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Researchers create gecko-like climbing robot

By Erica Bulman, 24 Hours Vancouver

SFU researchers have created a robot that can scale smooth glass or plastic walls using adhesive similar to a gecko's "sticky toes."

It could have varied applications, from inspecting pipes, airplanes and nuclear power plants to search and rescue operations.

The 'Tailless Timing Belt Climbing Platform' robot can move at 3.4 cm per second, has sensors to detect surroundings and can transfer from a flat surface to a wall.

"With an adequate power supply, our robot is capable of functioning fairly independently when it encounters larger-scale objects such as boxes or walls," said researcher Jeff Krahn.

The prototype uses dry adhesives - micro-scale fibres resembling mushroom caps - that rely on weak attraction between molecules.