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Gecko-inspired robotsFrom their hands and feet all the way down to their tails, geckos are inspiring all sorts of robotics technology. CNET News.com's Kara Tsuboi speaks with UC Berkeley research scientists about how they're mimicking nature's gifts in high-tech ways.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:02 >> How does it feel to be better than everyone else? >> Ah, the GEICO Gecko, the walking talking blinking pitchman from those iconic car insurance commercials. >> But a Gecko, it can be trusted. >> But these ads don't really do the little lizard special guest justice. >> I've less no time for the [inaudible], right. >> From their hands to their tails, they're pretty remarkable animals. Robotics engineers are mimicking their abilities to build everything from universal adhesives to life-saving robots. >> So, a gecko is running up the wall. Its feet maybe moving 20 times a second. So it's certainly couldn't afford to have an adhesive on its feet, which you'd have to pull off with a lot of force. What we've discovered along the way is that the reason they can stick to all these things is not because their little hairs on their fingers are made of anything particularly sticky. It's in fact just the geometry of those nanofibers. >> UC Berkeley Professor Ron Fearing and his team's latest version of gecko inspired adhesives work on a vertical surface. >> So, we have an adhesive, which switches on by falling sideways and switches off by releasing that force. >> UC Berkeley graduate student Jongho Lee demonstrates how the adhesive works. >> If we hold down then it sticks like this. >> And test that bond by hanging a 200 gram weight on the end of a spring. >> It's very easy to take off. It's almost nothing. >> And now there's no residue. >> No. No. >> Left behind. >> Not at all. So, if we use Scotch tape it will leave a lot of residue on it. >> Professor Fearing says this adhesive has all sorts of applications in robotics. >> That if you have a building that's collapsed, there's ruble all over the place, so you need something which can handle all sorts of surfaces that needs to be able to crawl up walls, crawl in the ceiling. >> And also aid firefighters to locate trapped victims, but also sense biological chemical and nuclear hazards before they can cause harm. >> Ardian Jusufi is part of another gecko research team at UC Berkeley, but is studying the animal's tail. >> If one front foot slips, then the tail taps the wall and prevents their heads from tipping backwards. >> These biologists made these discoveries only after robotics engineers came to them in search of solutions to keep their robots from slipping off walls. >> Without, sort of the engineers input on this we might never -- we biologists might have never looked more closely. So we think these types of mutually beneficial interdisciplinary collaborations are really important to do cutting edge research in this field. >> I'm Kara Tsuboi CNET News.com. ^M00:02:47 [ Music ]