back to article Electrosticky droid boffin in spider-gecko tech bitchslap

A California-based researcher says he has developed "electro-adhesion" tech which will allow robots to crawl up walls and perhaps hang from ceilings with ease. Nonprofit R&D group SRI reckons its switchable stickiness kit would be handy for military and disaster-relief applications - and ultimately, for special forces operators …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Genius. I'm off to listen to some of that new electrosticky music that the NME is about to feature.

  2. Stef
    Black Helicopters

    sticky robots

    I for one welcome our spider warbot ovelords

  3. Ash
    Thumb Up

    Toy of the future

    So when do i get a set of these so I can go climbing up the cliffs around here without ropes. Sounds great fun... extreme sports of the future.

  4. Adam Collett

    Life imitates art

    "military actions" and "urban reconnaissance, sensor deployment" and of course carrying a nasty syringe full of horrible goop!

    It's Tom Selleck in Runaway all over again

  5. Louis Cowan

    excellent title!

    "Electrosticky droid boffin in spider-gecko tech bitchslap

    Robo-thopter spy bat 'gargoyle mode' cracked?"

    These headings just get better and better. Not had a tea-spitting event for a while now!

    Sounds like the mad rantings of an enthusiastic child genius

  6. Nick Davey
    Paris Hilton

    Miltary sponsored titty-cam?

    How long before enterprising boffins fit say spybot with a video camera that jocks can use to electrotape themselves to the windows of attractive young women for a spot of voyeurism, or is this the kind of toy that little Johnny could be seeing under the Christmas tree in the next 5-10 years?

    Paris icon for obvious reasons.

  7. Steve Bennett

    If this scales

    The potential for this is crazy.

    I'll take one integrated into a blue/red lycra suit please.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Spiderman for all!

    Very cool, indeed. I wonder whether this clamp force is direction independent or not (would it be possible to hang from ceilings too?)

    In any case, it seems it would still need to get at least twice the performance in order to work reliably for prospective Techno-spidermen. At the half a Newton per square centimetre (because, yeah, I think we would like to err on the safe side when climbing skyscrapers ;)) , in order to support a regular male adult of 80 kg, one would need some 1600 square centimeters of the thing, amounting to a square of 40 cm on each size. I suppose that while still possible, it's probably not too wieldy to hold such a shield-sized thing on each hand.

  9. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge


    New job opportunities coming in the area of removing old, unsightly electrosticky bots from skyscrapers.

  10. Kenneth Chan

    Sounds like the begining of a super hero movie

    Nonprofit R&D Scientist developed some nifty technology that will rescue earthquake victim.... Throw in your run of the mill villain, maybe a love interest (Kirsten Dunst w/ digitally enchanted teeth)... Next thing you know you are doing a $200M weekend at the box office....

    Mr. Spielberg, a moment of your time please?


  11. Anonymous Coward

    Oh, fantastic!

    To both the headline and the technology. Is there any way we can have a specific section for Lewis Page articles, or have them emailed to us automatically?

  12. Chris G

    Spidey plague

    Presuming the scaling up of this invention to provide human sized `Spiderman ´type abilities, creates a scary mental picture of thousands of London commuters in red and blue leotards ( a truly horrible mental picture, given some of the figures seen on commuter trains). Attempting to avoid ever larger congestion charges on the roads, swing through the streets of London and colliding in head on smashes metres above the streets. Still, now I know what I want for my next Christmas prezzy1

  13. Bill

    "Normal force" stronger than oblique

    Remember those super-glue ads, "one drop holds a ton?" They did that by squeezing the drop between two very flat plates, and pulling on them completely evenly, exactly perpendicular to the plates...that way no part of the area is stressed any more than another.

    I'd bet that's how they're measuring this force...and I'd also bet that if you pull on their stuff sideways, pulling out one side of the plate unevenly (as you would climbing a wall) that their strength goes down significantly.

    I'm pretty sure ordinary stick-tape can hold more than 2 pounds per square inch if you pull perpendicularly instead of "peeling" it. So I'm not too impressed yet

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Wet Hot Steamy

    So this can be used in disaster situations so it would work in wet hot steamy environments? Like the girls showers at the gym?

    Did I say that out loud?

  15. Anonymous Coward


    >"using only 100-odd microwatts of juice per pound"

    How much can 100uJ accelerate 1lb of weight by in 1s? Not much. Wouldn't that mean you'd have to be staying /very/ still if you didn't want to fall off?

  16. Flocke Kroes Silver badge


    My book shelves stay attached to the walls without using any power at all. Putting them up and knocking them down requires energy.

    It is the same with electrosticky. The article gives no clue about the energy required to attach to a surface, or if it is possible to recover that energy when releasing a surface. The 100microwatts is for remaining attached.

    [Also two 40cm shields may be a bit big, but four 23.1cm shields (keep three attached at all times) would also work.]

  17. Michael Sheils
    Thumb Up

    Simply superb

    Best headline on this site for years and super cool tech. :)

  18. George
    Jobs Horns

    Sarah Connor better start looking up

    As soon as those bots start crawling walls, they're going to be searching for her in the ductwork and lurking on the ceiling while they plan to overthrow us all.

  19. Steve


    "How much can 100uJ accelerate 1lb of weight by in 1s? Not much. Wouldn't that mean you'd have to be staying /very/ still if you didn't want to fall off?


    You missed the trick: it doesn't work like that. The muscles (or motors) do the work of lifting, not the pads. Yes the pads react must against a force, but they do no work (expend no energy) if the force is not translated over distance - the purpose of these pads is to ensure no movement (relative to the wall); hence they need no significant power.

  20. Jon Tocker

    @ Spiderman for all!

    I guess that depends on whether you intend dangling by one arm/leg or not. If you were to work to "three points of contact at all times" you could divide that 1600 sqcm into three and make four pads of that size - about 24cm on each side - for hands and feet. That way you can support your weight adequately while shifting one limb to a new position. Or you could make 4x 800sqcm pads (<30cm/side) and you'd be able to support your weight on 2 points of contact while you reposition the other 2.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    you won't be seeing one any time soon

    Because if these work anything as well as possibly thought from the sounds of it, the gummint will have this baby locked up tighter than a drum with top secret applications all over it.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    @Ash - Toy of the future

    "So when do i get a set of these so I can go climbing up the cliffs around here without ropes. Sounds great fun... extreme sports of the future."

    Just remember to take some spare AAA's with you... wait a minute - don't take the old one out! AAAaaarrrgghhh.......

  23. Adam Foxton
    Thumb Up

    Does the strength scale properly?

    Okay, 1600sqcm isn't really small enough to allow full on Spiderman antics in tight lycra, but if you racked up the wattage 1000x that's still only a few miliwatts- a couple of hours on a single AA would still be possible, and the area required (especially with the 3-points-of-contact model) becomes far more practical.

    Also, another pressing concern: If it can be scaled up, could it be embedded in rubber? Allowing, say, greater traction in car tyres? Even on the ceiling?

    If the answer to both of those is "yes", please point me in the direction of your sales department!

  24. Nigee

    easily fixed

    by cheap paint, geckos excepted. Or perhaps there's an emerging market for 'pull-off' surfaces. I can just see the caped hero making her path up the wall with paint stripper.

  25. umacf24

    Metal Walls

    You can stop slugs getting into a flower pot with a band of copper tape. The same technique would work on this, but for a different reason -- electrosticky won't stick to conductors.

    Watch out for metal bands around sensitive buildings.

  26. David Sidebotham
    Jobs Halo

    Yeh! Yeh! But does it ....

    work on dusty surfaces? and how do you get the sand out of it's little suckers?

    Poor thing, you know what is like trying to walk with a stone in your shoe.

    Grumpy Old Git

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