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UC Berkeley biologist Robert Full is fascinated with cockroach legs that allow them to scuttle at full speed across loose mesh and gecko feet that have billions of nano-bristles to run straight up walls. He's using his research to design the perfect robotic "distributed foot," adding spines, hairs and other parts to metal legs and creating versatile scampering machines. He's helped create robots, such as Spinybot, which can walk up sheer glass like a gecko -- and he even helped Pixar create more realistic insect animations in the film A Bug's Life. Robert Full on animal movement Robert Full: Engineering and evolution Robert Full: Learning from the gecko's tail Geckos are lizards belonging to the infraorder Gekkota, found in warm climates throughout the world. They range from 1.6 cm to 60 cm. Geckos cannot blink. They have a fixed lens within each iris that enlarges in darkness. A gecko uses its long tongue to clean its eye and keep it dust-free. Geckos are lizards that can run rapidly up walls and even upside down on polished glass. How can they do that? I wanted to find out. Gecko have millions of microscopic hairs on the bottom of their feet that function as an adhesive. How does the adhesive work? Biologists have been asking this question for over a hundred years. I organized an interdisciplinary team of scientists including Bob Full at Berkeley, Ron Fearing (also at Berkeley), and Tom Kenny at Stanford to answer the question of how gecko foot hairs work. A "Spider-man" suit that enables its wearer to scale vertical walls like the comic and movie superhero could one day be a reality, according to a study. Gecko Time: Information for Gecko Enthusiasts
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