Gecko Locomotion: What Goes Up Must Come Down

Posted on 10/21/2014 12:24:47 PM By ASC

As researchers look at options for biomimetic adhesives, the gecko is a creature that continues to excite and offer up new insights. Geckos are adapted to stick to slick and wet surfaces, even at extremely steep angles. However, the minuscule hair-like projections that allow a gecko to stick also have a structure that suggests the adhesion only works on forces in one direction.  Typically, this helps geckos climb upwards, but going downhill, they must rotate their hind leg, potentially more than 70 degrees to take advantage of the single-direction adhesion. Quantifying the angles geckos use to stick may seem like an unlikely research project. However, gecko-inspired adhesion is being developed as an attachment method for robots both on Earth and during space missions.  In the future, research on how this adhesion method functions may be used to build better robots capable of navigating complex and steep terrain.