Stanford students design paddles to climb glass

AP News
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Posted: Dec 22, 2014 7:55 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stanford University students have created paddles that help humans scale glass walls like a gecko.

The "gecko gloves" use the same scientific principles employed by the sticky feet of nature's most impressive climber, the San Jose Mercury News reported (http://bit.ly/1E3ieHn) Monday.

"One of the most important attributes of their adhesive is that it's controllable, like tape that you can turn on when you want it to stick, and turn off when you don't," said Elliot Hawkes, a member of the research team.

The Stanford students have patents pending and have already begun negotiations with toy companies.

A Swiss entrepreneur has scheduled a meeting with the team in January to discuss possible rock-climbing applications. There is also a project in the works with NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena to use a version of the gloves to grab things in space.

"It turns out that gecko-inspired adhesives are one of the very few technologies that will work in space, where you've got a vacuum and very low temperatures," said Mark Cutkowsky, a member of the mechanical engineering faculty who was part of the four-man team.

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Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com