In a practical demonstration, a synthetic adhesion system enabled a 70 kg human to climb vertical glass with 140 square centimeters of adhesive per hand. They have developed a synthetic adhesion system that allows efficient scaling over four orders of magnitude of area. The synthetic adhesion system creates a nearly-uniform load distribution across the whole adhesive area, improving upon the adhesive-bearing structures of a gecko’s toe and enabling a human to climb vertical glass using an area of adhesive no larger than the area of a human hand. These results show that gecko-inspired adhesives can be scaled from laboratory-scale tests to human-scale applications with little decrease in performance.
The surface you’re climbing needs to be relatively smooth; like glass, varnished wood, polished stone, or metal.
In 2006, I had predicted gecko mimicing wallcrawling suits for military and enthusiasts by 2012. This appears to be several months overdue for my prediction. The paper was submitted June 2014. The cutoff for me was Dec 31, 2012. They were working the research for many years. The paper was being written in 2013 through early 2014.
Three frames from a video (electronic supplementary material, movie S1) showing a 70 kg climber ascending a 3.7 m vertical glass surface using a synthetic adhesion system with degressive load-sharing and gecko-inspired adhesives. The time between (a) and (c) is about 90 s and includes six steps.
Design of the climbing device and the synthetic adhesion system. (a) Climbing device: the load is transferred from the synthetic adhesion system through the load tendon into the rigid load member, which lies along the surface out of the way of the climber and supports the climber at the foot pivot. A rubberized roller prevents sideslip, and the foot pivot allows the ankle joint to be used. The foot pivot is located away from the wall, which allows the climber to move his or her centre of mass closer to the wall than the foot pivot, negating any tendency to fall backwards. (b,c) Synthetic adhesion system: the load is transferred from the adhesive tiles, through the tile tendons, into the degressive elastic elements, through the load plate and into the load tendon. The soft foam supports hold the adhesive tiles in place while in the swing phase, but are of negligible stiffness during the stance phase. The total area of the adhesive is 140 cm2 on each hand, divided into 24 independent tiles of dimensions 2.5 × 2.5 cm.