Stanford Engineers Are On Their Way to Make Spider-man Climbing Real

Technology is something that never falls back; just a few days ago researchers from University of Cambridge claimed that it is simply impossible to climb like Spider-man. To do so, the sticky pads need to scale up so that it could support increased weight as the researchers explained. Now, Elliot Hawks, a mechanical engineering student from Stanford University posted a video on YouTube that shows off his climbing skills.

Hawks is currently working with a team of engineers to develop a controllable, reusable adhesive material named Gecko toes. Using a synthetic adhesive the team has developed a device that is able to share large loads evenly across every patch of the adhesive. In order to allow someone to climb a glass wall, the device can create enough adhesion.

“It’s a lot of fun, but also a little weird, because it doesn’t feel like you should be gripping glass,” said Hawkes. “You keep expecting to slip off, and when you don’t, it surprises you. It’s pretty exhilarating.”

However, Gecko cannot alone do the real magic. There is a depressive spring on the back of each tile that helps keep all the pressure spread evenly. The springs are quite different; they get softer as you stretch them.

“When the pad first touches the surface, only the tips touch, so it’s not sticky,” said co-author Eric Eason, a graduate student in applied physics. “But when the load is applied, and the wedges turn over and come into contact with the surface, that creates the adhesion force.”

You may not be happy to see the video as Hawks is not moving with the speed as you saw in the Spider-man movie. However, the video shows the possibility of humans climbing walls like a boss in the near future.