A Sticky Situation


One-way adhesive is important for climbing because it requires little effort to attach and detach a robot’s foot.

“Other adhesives are sort of like walking around with chewing gum on your feet: You have to press it into the surface and then you have to work to pull it off. But with directional adhesion, it’s almost like you can sort of hook and unhook yourself from the surface,” Cutkosky said.

After the breakthrough insight that direction matters, Cutkosky and his team began asking how to build artificial materials for robots that create the same effect. They came up with a rubber-like material with tiny polymer hairs made from a micro-scale mold.

The designers attach a layer of adhesive cut to the shape of Stickybot’s four feet, which are about the size of a child’s hand. As it steadily moves up the wall, the robot peels and sticks its feet to the surface with ease, resembling a mechanical lizard. – Stanford University News

So, you’re sitting at your desk on the tenth floor. You’re sipping on your stale coffee, and trying to ignore two arguing co-workers in the next cubicle who can’t settle on who was funnier, Webster Long or Arnold Jackson.

You stand, hoping a leg-stretch will help you wake up a bit from your morning funk, when you notice the things on the window.

At first you figure it’s one of the utilitarian winba-bots that took over cleaning the building a few years back, but then you realize there are far too many of them: a double row of spry four-leggers sprint from the bottom of the glass, disappearing over your head.

That’ll be the day you learn the insurance company renting the 15th floor is actually a front for drug running ex-nomenklatura.