It might be difficult to come up with an excuse to postponing household cleaning. However, space garbage is really tricky to take out. Unfortunately, our planet is surrounded by lots of debris. They can interfere with space equipment which was extremely expensive to build in the first place. However, scientists came out with a brand new concept of a robot arm to clean up the place a little.
The Innovative Robot Arm Copies the Superpowers of the Gecko
A new device of the size of a toaster can help space agencies eliminate their problem with orbiting garbage. The robot arm can hold onto, grip, and transport things that are much larger than it is. It works on smooth, flat, and curved objects.
The team behind this new project is led by Hao Jiang at Stanford University in California. They developed a special technology which was actually inspired by geckos. Thanks to these lizards, researchers discovered how to make a robot grab on to something without adhesive and in zero gravity conditions. The secret is a material that works like a “dry adhesive” which offers results without the need for precision.
The arms of geckos have small hair blades that resemble some rubbery needles. However, the real driving force is the hairs’ end. These extremities can split into small strands. They are so tiny that they can infiltrate among molecules in any type of materials. The result is a Velcro-like effect. However, geckos can summon this superpower only when they pull along and bend their limbs on a surface.
The International Space Station Has Already Tested This Terminator for Space Garbage
Researchers managed to replicate this incredible ability in their own gripper. The robot arm is covered in a thin layer that has wedges on its surface. Each of them is a one-tenth of a millimeter wide. Once these touch an object and bend as they are pulled, they create an effect similar to “dry adhesive” and stick to the surface.
A version of this prototype has even reached the International Space Station already. Astronauts aboard got to try out this experiment in zero gravity conditions. The device had an impressive performance and seemed ready to grab some space garbage.
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