Scientists in the US have developed a series of super-small, super strong robots, including the one pictured above, that can haul up to 23 kilos. That's despite weighing less than 14 grams – imagine yourself trying to pull a blue whale and you get the idea of how strong these things are.
New Scientist reports that a Stanford University lab has been busy building the robots, all of which use gripping technology that is based around adhesive feet, inspired by gecko lizards. It describes how it works:
The adhesives are covered in minute rubber spikes that grip firmly onto the wall as the robot climbs. When pressure is applied, the spikes bend, increasing their surface area and thus their stickiness. When the robot picks its foot back up, the spikes straighten out again and detach easily.
The results include a nine-gram robot that can pull over 900 grams as it climbs walls, and a tiny 20 milligram bot — constructed under a microscope — that can carry 500 milligrams. The researchers reckon robots like these could be scaled up and used in the future to haul heavy loads around factories and building site. [New Scientist]