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The Military

Gecko Feet Inspire Hand-Held Spider-Man Paddles 64

Posted by samzenpus
from the wall-crawler dept.
ygslash (893445) writes DARPA is developing hand-held paddles that can be used to scale vertical walls. The adhesion technology employed in the paddles is based on Van der Waals force, inspired by the feet of certain species of geckos known for their excellent climbing ability. In a recent test, a man weighing almost 100 kg (220 lbs) and carrying a heavy pack that added about 23 kg (50 lbs) of additional weight, was able to scale a vertical glass wall almost 8 m (25 ft) high using the paddles. However, the paddles are reported to be 'not battlefield-ready yet.'
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Gecko Feet Inspire Hand-Held Spider-Man Paddles

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  • *Clang* *Clang* *Clang*

    Didn't Mythbusters have an episode on this?

    • by mark-t (151149)
      I dunno.... did they ever test anything based on Van der Waals force? I remember one where they tested various magnets and suction mechanisms, but did they do another one?
      • by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @11:17PM (#47219287) Homepage

        There was also walking on water like some lizards and insects do, but no not quite similar.

        Van der Waals force isn't exactly a myth though, just a job for materials science.

        • by mark-t (151149)
          A show like mythbusters would examine the general viability of something like a spiderman suit or some other portable wall-scaling device that the average tv watcher is going to understand, not about testing the Van der Waals force specifically.
          • does anyone else see the irony of using a Van Der Waals force to climb, wait for it, walls?
            • by Anonymous Coward

              does anyone else see the irony of using a Van Der Waals force to climb, wait for it, walls?

              Van Der Waals? Isn't that just the German translation of an Oasis song?

        • by kenwd0elq (985465) <kenwd0elq@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @11:46PM (#47219425)

          The problem with trying to USE Van der Waals forces for anything is that in order to stick together, both surfaces must be microscopically smooth; the sort of "smooth" that would make plate glass or mirrors look like "volcanic rock under a magnifying glass". "Reflecting telescope mirror" smooth. Making materials that smooth - and KEEPING them that smooth - is going to be a challenge.

          As physics, it's pretty neat. From an engineering perspective, it's going to be a problem.

          • by dbIII (701233) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @01:44AM (#47219833)

            both surfaces must be microscopically smooth

            Not as such - as seen in the summary where geckos are mentioned. One side is made up of a LOT of very smooth surfaces of microscopic size which gets around the problem.

            From an engineering perspective, it's going to be a problem

            Which has been worked on for decades and is paying off now with a few different things - I think another is called "gecko tape".

          • by GrahamCox (741991) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:38AM (#47220143) Homepage
            The problem with trying to USE Van der Waals forces for anything is that in order to stick together, both surfaces must be microscopically smooth

            Better not tell Geckos about that, they'll die out once they hear.
            • by necro81 (917438)

              Better not tell Geckos about that, they'll die out once they hear.

              There's a Wile E Coyote reference to be made somewhere...

    • by Adriax (746043)

      "Thor, the god of thunder, is trying to enter my building!"
      -Adam Savage, Season 4 Episode 11

  • or rather its the first thing they stuck it on and the reason they designed it but the articles are coming out in reverse order

    http://science.slashdot.org/st... [slashdot.org]
    http://hardware.slashdot.org/s... [slashdot.org]
    http://hardware.slashdot.org/s... [slashdot.org]

  • I doubt that it is safe to count on most glass not failing under such stress. Climbing concrete or sheet rock might be a better notion.
  • So glass loves water and anything else prone to Van der Waals forces.

    Good luck with scaling rock or wood or metal.
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Once again, watch a gecko or see some video footage of one for an example of this idea in action on wood and metal.
      • My understanding is that the technology works poorly on dusty surfaces, due to the setae sticking to the dust rather than the surface, but the only surface that absolutely won't work is Teflon.
  • We know about the "research" leading to this - we all saw "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" too.

  • Despite the purported difficulty with rock and this technology, I believe rock climbing will never be the same.

  • by jasontheking (124650) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:47AM (#47220001)

    Does 'not battlefield-ready yet' mean that grenades stick to the hand and won't let go? or mortar rounds, plane wings, tank tracks, pants...

    • by peragrin (659227)

      my first thought was along the lines of so not battlefield ready is it thief ready? will some thieves use these to break into buildings?i there a movie about it yet?

    • I think the real problem will be finding a battlefield full of glass walls in order to make these really useful...
  • If yes, it's probably just Tim Berners-Lee in disguise.
  • "In a recent test, a man weighing almost 100 kg (220 lbs) "

    They've got a way to go before it can support your average fat american then. But then I suppose if you need to get one of those land whales up the side of a building you'd use a crane anyway.

    • by Triklyn (2455072)

      reading comprehension fail, 270lbs. 100 kg + 50lbs of gear.

      learn to do math, or did they not educate you in the numbers?

  • Can these Gecko Paddles save us 15% on our car insurance in 15 minutes?

    Oh wait, this is not how any of this works! I can save more in half the time.

    "You are never too old, too wacky, too wild
    to pick up a book and read to a child" - Dr. Seuss
  • tech.slashdot.org/story/01/05/17/1452217/scaling-walls-with-suction-cups

The 11 is for people with the pride of a 10 and the pocketbook of an 8. -- R.B. Greenberg [referring to PDPs?]

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