Gecko gripper on display at Hannover Messe Trade Fair 2016. Photo by Adam Berry.

Gecko Gripper

 

Born at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Perception Robotics’ Gecko Gripper mimics the method and performance of the adhesive system on geckos’ feet that enables them to climb walls and ceilings. Geckos adhere to surfaces using arrays of tiny, hierarchical hairs (milli- to nanometer scale) that generate enough van der Waals forces to support the animal’s weight.

Perception Robotics and JPL have developed gripping pads to mimic this functionality. By arranging these pads in counterbalanced pairs, triads, or quads, omni-directional grip can be achieved.

Our solution enables the efficient on/off engagement and release of the gripper.

The idea of turning the stickiness of a material ON and OFF is not an intuitive concept, yet this is exactly how geckos run up walls at speeds greater than 1 m/s and cling to ceilings made of glass.

Transitioning this capability to spacecraft and manufacturing constitutes a major technological breakthrough as it would provide improved handling capabilities in a cost- and energy-efficient manner.