Though we tend to focus on the web-slinging and strength, one the coolest things about Spider-Man is the ability to take off and scale a wall with his super sticky hands. Well, as long as you have these gloves, you should be able to follow right behind him.
Researchers at Stanford have unveiled a new glove project similar to Spider-Man’s wall-crawling — though this is admittedly described as “gecko-inspired” — that allows the wearer to stick to a wall and climb right up. The demo plays out fairly slowly, but with some refinement, you’d think this thing could come in pretty handy for a DIY superhero.
The team basically took the sticky pads geckos use to stick to things and scaled it up to a point where it’s big and efficient enough for a human being. The trick? Clingy, hairlike nano fibers that flatten out when pulled downward and grip via electromagnetic attraction. It also uses a shape-memory alloy to keep from breaking mid-climb. But, as Popular Mechanics notes, it can still be yanked off with a perpendicular tug to continue climbing.
Using springs, they anchored 24 microwedge patches to a flat plate that a person could grab with their hand, the idea being that the 24 patches distribute the force of a climber. However, this is actually a well-tested recipe for failure. Normal springs won't distribute weight as evenly as you'd need. Worse, when a single patch is pulled past its breaking point, the failure can avalanche across the entire plate.
Cool as this tech might seem, it does have a few limitations. It only works on extremely flat and smooth surfaces like glass, and it does not work in the rain. So clear-weather crime only, would-be superheroes. The pads also get dirty, so keep them wiped down so they’ll remain effective.
Check out the Spider-Gecko gloves in action below and let us know what you think:
(Via Popular Mechanics)