The nerd quotient for drones is about to skyrocket thanks to a creation from researchers at Stanford University. As if tech nerds didn’t have enough grief to face, a drone that can land and stick to walls, much like everyone’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, is set to out nerd even the nerdiest of scientists, techies and drone enthusiasts thanks to its combination of tech and comic book sensibilities. Equipping a drone with bug like attributes, like the ability to stick to walls, Stanford researchers hope to solve the problem of limited flight endurance that cripples many commercial drones.
So, just how does this little flying bugger land and stick to walls with the same precision and stickiness as that famous masked web slinger? With microspines, of course! Microspines are textured pads that were, in all fairness, not inspired by Spider-Man, but instead the physical biology that allows geckos to climb and stick to walls. These microspines drag against nicks and bumps on a wall and hang from them using friction. A tail spine also assists in enabling this drone to fasten itself to a vertical surface and perch itself from it.
This rather sticky application isn’t full proof yet, but researchers have successfully employed it to allow drones to safely land and secure on materials and objects made of cinderblock and stucco. Stanford’s team is looking to enhance and refine this research, incorporating new gripping technologies and even dabbling with adhesives that would allow drones to attach to smoother surfaces like glass. If successful, this venture could drastically improve a drone’s lifespan by allowing them to use their battery power more efficiently. A drone that can attach and stick to a wall would waste much less power than a hovering drone. Soon enough, it might not be a bug you’re swatting off your wall, but a perched drone. Watch this sticky drone in action below.