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Gecko-Like Robots to Fix Spacecrafts

4 years ago55 views

GeoBeats

Geo Beats

Researchers supported by the European Space Agency have created robots modeled after the gecko lizard and its climbing abilities in order to repair and prolong the life of spacecrafts as well as keep astronauts safe from dangerous spacewalks.

Nature is a major source of inspiration for everyone from artists to inventors. Now, researchers supported by the European Space Agency have created robots modeled after the gecko lizard and its climbing abilities in order to repair and prolong the life of spacecrafts as well as keep astronauts safe from dangerous spacewalks.

Geckos’ feet can “stick” to walls and other surfaces because of tons of tiny bacteria-sized hairs covering them. Using van der Waals force, the bunched-up atoms of the hairs and surfaces cause them to be attracted to one another.

Researchers from Canada’s Simon Fraser University saw this force as a solution to needs in space. Traditional wet glues lose their stickiness and produce damaging fumes. Magnets don’t stick to certain surfaces and disrupt instrument readings. Velcro requires another Velcro surface and could contaminate electronics. But, softer polymer structures mimicking the gecko’s hairs and attaching to adhesive actually increased surface contact and performed well in a vacuum.

They built an energy-efficient robot that rolls like a tank as well as another one named Abigaille that walks on six legs. Abigaille can “transition from the vertical to horizontal, which might be useful for going around a satellite or overcoming obstacles on the way.”