Wall-walking robot based on Palmetto Tortoise Beetle

Paul Steen (Cornell) is developing a robot that can walk up walls. The robot achieves this by using the same "trick" as the Palmetto Tortoise Beetle.  The Beetle, which lives on palm trees, secretes hundreds of thousands of droplets of palm oil, and uses the surface tension produced thereby to remain stuck to the palm tree. The force generated is powerful enough to keep the beetle attached to the tree even during hurricanes.  Steen's robot uses an artificial substance pumped through many tiny, carefully manufactured holes in the robot's "feet" to achieve the same end.

I have written about my reservations regarding this work at http://filsalustri.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/what-we-havent-learnt-from-palm-beetles/.

Other links include: CBC coverage, News release from Cornell, Prof Steen's web page, and an article in Wired.

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