Watch these tiny, gecko-inspired robots pull up to 2,000 times their own weight

Contributed by
Apr 27, 2015

Robots already have a bit of a physical edge, thanks to the fact that they’re not made of flesh and gooey stuff, but this tiny tech could give them another leg up in the eventual battle for mankind’s existence.

A team of engineers at Stanford University have managed to leverage techniques inspired by both geckos and inchworms to create tiny robots that can potentially pull objects 2,000 times their own weight. For perspective, as noted by an engineer working the project: That’s the equivalent of a human dragging a blue whale. Whoa.

So, how does it work? Basically by mimicking a gecko’s natural skills, as the team put tiny rubber spikes on the ‘bots' feet that will bend when pressure is applied (which increases the surface area). But the spikes straighten out when the foot is lifted, allowing the tiny, future killing machine to drag the weight forward.

There are a few varieties of the robots already, with the biggest model weighing in at just 12 grams and capable of pulling objects 2,000 heavier than itself. A tiny, 20-milligram model can carry 25 times its own weight. Plus, a special 9-gram design inspired by inchworms can pull up to one kilogram up a vertical surface. That basically equates to a human dragging an elephant straight up a building. 

Check out the tiny robots in action below and let us know what you think:

The engineers behind the project believe the tech could have a wide range of usability (outside of Skynet’s plans for world domination). Potential applications include moving extremely large and heavy objects for construction, emergencies, etc.

(Via The Verge)

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