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2011 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on

Intelligent Robots and Systems


September 25-30, 2011. San Francisco, CA, USA

Scaling Walls: Applying Dry Adhesives to the Real World


Elliot W. Hawkes, John Ulmen, Noe Esparza and Mark R. Cutkosky

Abstract We present two foot mechanisms that allow relatively large patches of synthetic fibrillar dry adhesives applied
inexactly by a climbing robot to perform at levels previously obtained only for small samples in precisely aligned and controlled
bench-top tests. The mechanisms are inspired by the structures
found in the toes of the gecko. The first mechanism uses ankles
with roll and yaw flexures and a compliant structure behind the
adhesive material to achieve approximately uniform pressures
under nominal loading conditions on flat and curved surfaces.
The second design uses a tendon-supported structure to achieve
uniform loading and prevent premature peeling failures despite
significant misalignment with a flat wall surface. The two
designs are demonstrated on Stickybot III, an approximately 1
kg climbing robot, and can be scaled to larger areas and loads
by tiling the basic structure.

I. INTRODUCTION
Recently, gecko-like synthetic adhesives (GSA) have been
the subject of extensive research. Much of this interest
is due to the exceptional climbing abilities of the gecko,
which is capable of rapid climbing on rough, smooth, wet,
and even inverted surfaces. To accomplish these feats, the
gecko employs a hierarchical system of lamellae, setae, and
spatulae, -keratin structures on its toe-pads with dimensions on the millimeter, micrometer, and nanometer scale,
respectively [1], [2]. A bibliography of developments in
synthetic adhesives can be found at [3], which reveals steady
improvements in adhesive pressures. Recent efforts also seek
to emulate the directional behavior of the geckos adhesive
system [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10] and its ability to
conform to textured surfaces using a hierarchy of compliant
structures [7], [11], [12], [13].
Much less attention, however, has focused on applying
adhesives to climbing. Climbing presents different challenges
than creating samples of material that perform well on a stiff,
calibrated test stage or in carefully controlled hang tests;
alignment, large patch sizes, moments, and peel propagation
are all formidable obstacles. Nonetheless, several groups
have demonstrated robots that climb with micro-structured
dry adhesives [10], [14], [15]. In each case, the robot obtains
much lower adhesive pressures than possible under ideal
conditions. For example, the 0.3 kg Stickybot [10] required
16 cm2 of Directional Polymer Stalks (DPS) in contact,
which could otherwise support up to 5 kg in a controlled
vertical hang test. Similarly, Murphy et al. [14] note that
carrying payloads over 0.5 kg is impractical for the Waalbot
design although the adhesive would permit significantly
higher loads under ideal conditions.

At larger scales, given that mass grows as l3 while contact


area grows at l2 , it is increasingly difficult to climb, which
may be one reason why the largest geckos are well under a
kilogram. Consequently, the motivating question behind this
paper is whether it is possible to create a foot that allows
a robot or even a human climber to approach the adhesive
performance obtained in benchtop tests. In the following
sections we first describe the main challenges associated
with scaling adhesive patches to increasingly large areas and
then describe two different approaches used to address these
challenges with Stickybot III (Fig. 1), a robot that can carry
payloads bringing its gross weight to over 1 kg. With the
second, tendon-based, foot design, the maximum weight is
limited not by adhesion but by the motors on Stickybot III
so that ultimately, climbing may be possible for considerably
larger and heavier platforms.

Fig. 1: Stickybot III climbing a painted cabinet door using


the tendon-based foot design. Inset: underside of foot (tendon
visible at center). The foot is intentionally misaligned 15 in
roll, yet maintains full contact.

II. D ESIGN C ONSIDERATIONS


A. Design Requirements

E. W. Hawkes, J. Ulmen, N. Esparza and M. R. Cutkosky are with


the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Design Division Stanford
University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA ewhawkes@stanford.edu

978-1-61284-456-5/11/$26.00 2011 IEEE

There are two basic challenges in getting full performance


out of a several square centimeter or larger adhesive patch

5100

a.

35m

b.
3cm patch of microwedges

35m = 0.06 misalignment


Fig. 2: a) With microwedges, there is a 35 m window
between full engagement with the surface (left) and no
engagement (right). b) This corresponds to 0.06 of misalignment over a 3 cm patch.
applied by a legged robot1 or human operator: (1) engaging
every fiber of the material with the surface before loading
and (2) applying the load evenly to all engaged fibers.
1) Engaging Every Fiber: Even on flat surfaces like glass,
it can be a challenge to obtain full engagement when the
fibers of an adhesive are less than 100 m long. For example,
for the microwedge directional adhesive used on Stickybot
III [6], the fibers are approximately 70 m long and have a
working range of 35 m, as shown in Fig. 2. Therefore, it
is necessary to maintain alignment to within 0.06 degrees
over a length of 3 cm, both while placing the adhesive
and throughout the loading cycle. Some synthetic adhesives
have longer fibers, but the demands on precision remain
formidable unless the adhesive can be made self-aligning
under load.
One solution to the alignment problem is to employ a hierarchy of compliant structures. The gecko has 100 m long
setae with aspect ratios of 10:1 that independently suspend
groups of nano-scale spatulae [1]. No equivalent structure has
been devised for synthetic adhesives although, as mentioned
in Section I, several researchers have developed hierarchical
structures. Unfortunately, a trade-off associated with most
such structures is reduced density of terminal features, so
that overall loads are lower on smooth surfaces. A second
limitation of synthetic hierarchies is that as more compliance
is added to account for more misalignment a smaller fraction
of the overall area will be engaged because large compliance
makes perfectly co-planar surface features impractical. For
example, the adhesive mounted on the hierarchical structure
used with the compliant ankle solution (see inset in Fig.
6) obtains only half the adhesion possible with the same
terminal microwedges mounted on a well-aligned, flat, rigid
backing layer.
Ideally, a foot would have the high adhesion of a flat,
1 Alignment

is less of an issue for a tank-treaded robot [16], however it


must be maintained throughout climbing.

perfectly aligned plate and the ability to accommodate misalignment of a suspension when climbing smooth surfaces.
2) Applying Load Evenly: If the alignment problem were
solved such that every fiber was perfectly engaged, the next
task would be to distribute the adhesive load evenly among
all fibers. Stress concentrations must be avoided as they lead
to local areas of failure; the load on the adjacent fibers then
increases and the result is a peeling failure. The tendency
for peeling failures to propagate rapidly across the pad is
particularly severe when the pad is loaded in an applied
force mode, as in the case of a hanging weight or robot,
versus an applied displacement mode, as in the case of
a stiff, controlled testing stage. In the latter case, with a
compliant adhesive system, the failure will progress only
until a new equilibrium is achieved.
When climbing, three conditions of peeling must be
avoided: peeling by backing layer2 bending, peeling by
moments created by a load offset, and peeling by moments
transferred through the foot.
Backing layer bending occurs when the load is applied
to a point on the backing layer, e.g. by a tendon, but the
backing layer is not stiff enough to transfer this force evenly
to the entire area of the pad. If the pad is loaded at the
center, this will cause an outward peeling. If we assume a
load at the center of the pad, then for optimal performance
(all fibers receiving an even load), the center of the backing
layer must deflect less than 35 m away from the wall when
fully loaded to ensure no fiber disengages prematurely.

bending

load

adhesion

Fig. 3: The backing layer will bend when loaded at the center,
but pulled toward the wall by adhesion. This bending can be
modeled as a clamped-fixed beam with even loading.
To calculate the required stiffness of the backing layer, the
structure can be modeled as a beam, loaded towards the wall
by an even adhesive pressure distribution and away from the
wall by a point force at the center (Fig. 3). The maximum
deflection away from the wall is then given by Eq. 1. If the
load, F, is evenly distributed over the entire area, then the
pressure as force per unit length is w = F/2L. Using forces
and sizes from Stickybot III, F = 1N, L = .018m, E = 21GPa
(glass fiber composite), and y = 35 m, the thickness of the
backing needs to be at least 1.1 mm.
wL4
(1)
8EI
The second mode of peeling is due to moments created by
a load offset. Here, the offset d between the load vector and
y=

2 The layer behind the adhesive is termed the backing layer. It can be
rigid as in the tendon-inspired design, or rigid with a layer of compliant
material connecting it to the adhesive, as in the compliant design.

5101

Minimize pitch-back moment


Phalanges

Fluid-filled sac

Pm

Lateral digital tendon

Fsin(!")

Lateral digital tendon

+
l

!"
Fcos(!")

Lamellae

Lamella

Fig. 5: Drawing of a cross-section of the gecko foot, showing


inspirational functional anatomy, reprinted from [2] with
permission.
(a)

(b)

(c)

Fig. 4: When load F is applied at an angle and distance


d from the wall, a pitch-back moment arises (inset). A
non-uniform pressure distribution is needed to counter the
moment (b), and results in the maximum pressure, Pm ,
occurring only along the top edge of the pad (c).

wall results in a pitch-back moment that must be countered


by non-uniform adhesion pressure (Fig. 4, inset). This results
in the maximum pressure, Pm , occurring along the top of
the pad, while the rest of the pad is working below capacity
(Fig. 4, (c)). The addition of a tail, or contact point distance
l below the pad (See 4, inset) helps to create a more even
distribution of pressures across the surface of the pad, but
with a finite length cannot completely eliminate the pressure
concentration at the top of the pad. Pm can be written as the
sum of the pressures along the top of the pad in Fig. 4 (a) and
(b), and is shown in Eq. 2a. To find Fm , the maximum load
for a given configuration, Eq. 2a is rearranged for the case
when Pm = Pa , the maximum sustainable normal pressure
of the adhesive (Eq. 2b). A ratio of d to h can then be
0
0
calculated for a desired Fm
/Fm , where Fm
is the maximum
load for a given d and Fm is the load for the nominal, d =
0
/Fm = 0.9,
0 case (Eq. 2c). For instance, at = 20 and Fm
d/h = 0.007. Thus for h = 2 cm, d can be only 140 m.

B. Bioinspiration
The design begins with bioinspiration from the geckos
foot. To simplify the functional anatomy for climbing in
the gecko, there are four distinct sections of the foot that
play important roles: the adhesive-covered lamellae, the
phalanges, the fluid-filled sac, and the lateral digital tendon
(Fig. 5).
Lamellae- These long, slender flaps each have a small
section of adhesive at their ends, which are free to orient
at a variety of angles since they are supported only by
a thin section of skin.
Phalanges- The bones of the toe provide the pre-load
for pressing the adhesive to the surface before loading.
Fluid-Filled Sac- This layer is between the phalanges
and the lamellae, and transfers the pre-load from the
former to the latter. It acts as a universal joint, allowing
a large range of bone angles to press the pad flat against
the surface. Further, it bears little shear load, allowing
this to fall to the tendon.
Lateral Digital Tendon- This structure acts as the load
bearing member in the finger. Once the phalanges and
sac have preloaded the lamellae, the tendon, which
branches into each individual lamella, transfers the
geckos weight to the adhesive.
III. D ESIGNS

F sin() F cos()dh
Pm =

a
2I
h
F m = Pa a
6dcos() + hsin()

(2a)
(2b)

F0

(1 Fm
)tan()
d
m
=
0
F
m
h
6 Fm

(2c)

The third type of peeling is caused when a well-aligned


patch is subjected to a torque produced by the robot. This
mode has the same peeling mechanism as the second type,
but a different cause. Further, it can result about any axis
(pitch, roll, or yaw). To eliminate this cause of peeling,
the transfer of moments from the robot to the pad should
eliminated. This is difficult, as the robot needs control of the
pad during placement.

A. Design 1: 2-Axis Compliant Foot with Adhesive Suspension Layer


The first iteration of the foot is primarily designed to
overcome real-world issues of alignment and conformability
that are not well represented in benchtop tests. Further,
the design allows adhesion to non-planar and micro-rough
surfaces but at the cost of maximum adhesion. The following
design decisions are made:
1) Engaging Every Fiber: This design opts for a tradeoff, in which 100% contact is sacrificed for absorption of
misalignment. The adhesive suspension used allows for up
to 12 degrees pitch misalignment when loaded at half of
the maximum load. Further, an integrated flexure in the
foot allows another +/- 8 degrees of both roll and yaw
misalignment (see Fig. 6). When climbing a flat surface such
as glass, these two degrees of freedom allow for engagement
of the pad even with significant alignment errors. This greatly

5102

adhesive

a.

joint

b.
hole
riser
tendon

A
tendon

c.

process

Section A-A

phalanx

strut

backing

Fig. 6: Top left: Two-axis foot flexure design allows for roll
and yaw misalignments of up to 8 while climbing. Right:
The flexure mechanism. Bottom left: The suspension system
supporting a layer of microwedges (See Fig. 2).

anvil

strut

d.

e.

anvil

reduces required precision of the loading trajectory and


makes the adhesive practically useful for climbing.
2) Applying Load Evenly: The load carried by the foot
is applied approximately 1 cm behind the contact surface
(dimension d in Fig. 4) creating a significant pitchback
moment. The flexure in the foot and the robot structure are
designed to be stiff in the pitch direction to support this
moment and allow even pressure distribution over the pad
contact area. Eventually though, a counter-moment must be
generated through contact forces with the climbing surface.
To ensure that the contact forces are both minimized and
balanced in adhesion among all four feet, Stickybot III has
a long tail in light contact with the wall. As feet are all
pulling on the wall while the tail applies a light contact
force some length below, a counter-moment is generated that
prevents pitchback. As the tail length is increased, the contact
force required to produce the counter-moment decreases,
motivating the desire for a long tail. Ultimately the tail length
is limited by practical and aesthetic purposes, but its presence
is a necessity with this foot design.
Finally, the compliance built into both the foot and adhesive suspension layer help stop peeling and allow adhesion
to slightly non-flat and non-smooth surfaces. As described,
the flexure in the foot allows two-axis compliance in the roll
and yaw directions while the adhesive suspension provides
compliance in the pitch direction. This compliance prevents
operator induced motion from coupling into forces and moments that cause peeling. Additionally, the adhesive has some
compliance in the normal direction allowing conformation
to small surface curvature and adhesion to lightly rough
surfaces. Unfortunately the combination of these features
reduces the maximum adhesion capability of the system, but
the design tradeoffs enable reliable climbing of a variety of
surfaces.
B. Design 2: Tendon-inspired Foot
This design is directly inspired by the tendon in the gecko
foot.
1) Engaging Every Fiber: In Section II-A.1, it is mentioned that a rigid plate directly behind the adhesive creates
the maximum engagement of fibers, if the plate is perfectly

skin

f.

Fig. 7: The tendon-inspired foot is shown from several


perspectives. The foot allows allows a large range of motion
between the phalanx and the adhesive. a) Front view. b) Cross
section. c) Yaw, back view. d) Pitch, side view. e)Translation,
side view. f) Roll, top view.

aligned. With the geckos fluid-filled pre-load mechanism in


mind, a sliding 5-DOF spherical joint is added to a rigid
plate with the adhesive to obtain alignment and full contact
(Fig. 7, labels: joint, strut, anvil). The joint comprises crossed
cylinders which are the strut, a carbon fiber rod running
across the backing, and the anvil, attached to the phalanx.
The joint is only held together by the tension of the skin. It
is free to allow pitch misalignment of +/- 45 degrees, and
roll misalignment of +/-50 degrees.
Since this joint cannot transmit any moments, it will flop
uncontrollably if not stabilized. Thus a thin foam skin
is added to support the rigid plate, in a similar way that
the geckos skin supports the lamellae (Fig. 7, label: skin).
Because the mass of the plate is two orders of magnitude
less than that of the robot, the forces that the skin applies
to hold the pad in place while not engaged on the wall are
negligible when compared to those the robot applies while
loaded. With the skin, the range of motion is more limited,
+/- 15 degrees in pitch and +/- 35 degrees in roll (Fig. 7,
c-f). This is because the foam is not a perfect spring, and
becomes much stiffer after significant strain. However, both
of these misalignment values are well beyond anything the
robot might apply during normal climbing.
2) Applying Load Evenly: To prevent peeling moments,
complete isolation of the pad from the forearm or leg is
desired. This is acheived using a method analogous to the
gecko, utilizing tendons for load bearing. Since the tendon
in this design is a string, it cannot transmit any moments,
preventing the robot from peeling the pad when a twisting
torque is applied to the foot. Negligible moments are transmitted through the skin layer.

5103

The string tendon is attached to the riser on the surface


of the foot placing the string 75 m from the wall (Fig. 7,
Section A-A). This is crucial in eliminating the pitch-back
moment that limits most foot designs (Eq. 2c). By aligning
the adhesion and load vectors, very little moment is needed
to keep the patch on the wall. Thus the foot can hang from
the wall without a tail. Loading at the wall eliminates the
extra adhesion required when using a tail, which is needed
to cancel the force with which the tail pushes into the wall.3
It is critical that the load is transmitted through the string
tendon which is attached to the center of the pad at the
surface, and not through the spherical joint behind the pad.
If any of the load were to travel through the spherical
joint, a large pitch-back moment would be induced. Just as
the geckos weight passes through the lateral digital tendon
which branches and attaches to each of the lamella and not
through the fluid filled sac, all of the load passes through
the string tendon, since the spherical joint can slide. Thus
the spherical joint can only apply forces during preload.
IV. FABRICATION

provides a light connection to the spherical joint with a small


amount of elastic compliance.
B. Microwedges
The adhesive is made by curing PDMS in a microstructured mold. The mold is patterned using photolithography
with angled exposures of SU-8 on a quartz wafer. The
features are wedges, 20 m at the base, 80 m tall, and
200 m wide [6].
V. R ESULTS
To allow climbing, an adhesive must provide normal and
shear limits that are greater than the normal and shear components of the climbing force. These limits can be mapped
onto the force plane to create a limit surface, or boundary
within which all stable forces must fall. If the applied forces
exceed the limit of the adhesive, failure occurs. The robots
gait is tuned to eliminate peaks in the forces applied that
might cross the limit surface, and the foot designs presented
create limit surfaces well beyond the climbing forces.

A. Ankle and Foot

A. Gait Tuning

There are four main components of the tendon-inspired


foot: the glass fiber backing, the string tendon, the sliding
spherical joint, and the ABS/glass fiber phalanx (Fig. 7).
The backing is cut from 1.5 mm thick PCB board to a
dimension of 1.8 cm x 3.8 cm. A triangular notch is cut from
the center of the bottom of the pad to the middle, providing
a void in which the string tendon may move freely. PCB
board is chosen for its stiffness and flat surface. It is further
stiffened by the carbon fiber strut bonded lengthwise across
its back. The glass fiber is finished by sanding the surface
between two parallel aluminum plates to increase flatness.
The tendon is made from P-line Spectrex, a woven
filament low-stretch Spectrathread with diameter of 180
m and 9 kg test strength. The string runs from the base
of the phalanx, over a 250 m thick glass-fiber riser on the
surface of the glass fiber backing, through the backing just
above the triangular notch, and finally is secured with glue
to the back side of the backing (Fig. 7, Section A-A). Due to
the riser, the string tendon passes within 75 m of the wall.
The sliding spherical joint comprises the carbon fiber strut
that is bonded to the back of the glass fiber backing, the
anvil on the phalanx, and the soft foam skin. The acrylic
process allows the phalanx to roll, pitch, yaw and translate
both horizontally and vertically with respect to the backing.
The highly compliant skin is secured to either edge of the
backing, and stretched across the phalanx, where it is also
secured.
Finally, the phalanx is constructed of ABS and glass fiber
and mates with the distal servo of Stickybot III via a servo
horn embedded in the ABS section (layered, laser-cut pieces,
with a space for the servo horn). The glass fiber panel

The gait is written in MATLAB, and specifies waypoints


for the end effectors (feet) of the robot. The motion of the
feet follows a trot gait, with opposite diagonal pairs moving
together. A force trace (Fig. 8, left) of a single gait cycle
from one foot of the robot is attained by directing it across
an ATI-Gamma SI-32-2.5 force sensor (accuracy: +/- .05 N)
mounted in a cutout in an acrylic sheet.

3 The tail is still used on Stickybot III when climbing, to help keep the
body parallel to the wall during the swing phase. However, once feet are
engaged, the tail is not required.

Gait fig

Wall
a. normal
preload
b.
shear
loading

a.
b.

e. swing

e.
d.

c.
c. grip

d. shear
unloading

Side view

Fig. 8: Left: The force trace of a single foot during one gait
cycle of StickybotIII. Right: The programmed gait.
A positive normal preload is created by commanding the
two incoming feet to move into the wall (Fig. 8, a.). Next, the
detaching and attaching feet are pulled toward one another
along the wall to transfer the shear load (Fig. 8, b.). Once the
detaching feet no longer carry a shear load, they are pulled
away from the wall with almost zero detachment force. The
attached feet remain in the grip phase (Fig. 8, c.). They
transfer the shear load back to the now incoming feet, (Fig.
8, d.), then swing to reset (Fig. 8, e.).

5104

B. Limit Surface: Two-Axis Ankle


Once the force trace is established, it remains to ensure
that the limit surface of a foot falls safely outside of the worst
case peaks of applied forces. Fig. 9 (detail) shows the limit
surface of the two-axis ankle overlaid with the force traces
from the climbing robot. A safety factor of approximately
1.5 in normal force can be seen in the crucial area under the
x-axis, when a vertical line (black, dashed) is drawn through
the plots. This is enough for dozens of runs without failure.

The limit of the tendon-inspired foot matches that of the


stage, even though a much larger patch (5.8 v. 0.95 cm2 ) is
used. This is remarkable for two reasons. First, a larger patch
creates more difficult alignment, and second, the applied
displacement testing method on the stage inhibits peeling
crack propagation. Of further note is the difference in size
of the limit regions (shaded areas on Fig. 9) for the two foot
designs. The area (green) for the compliant foot is enough
to allow Stickybot III to climb, yet the tendon-inspired foot
creates a much larger region (blue).
D. Scaling

F.S.
= compliant foot
= tendon-inspired foot
= stage data

= Stickybot III gait

F.S.

Fig. 9: Detail: The limit surface of the two-axis ankle (green


crosses and shaded region) plotted with the force trace from
a gait cycle of the robot (red dots). Also shown is the pull-off
angle (purple dashed line), which passes through the point of
greatest normal pressure. At this point, a safety factor can be
seen along the black dashed line. Bottom: The limit surface
of the tendon-inspired ankle (blue xs and shaded region)
compared to that of the small patch on the three-axis stage
(black dots). The same 1.5 safety factor (dotted black line)
is shown at 7.5x the pressure.
However, a large difference is seen when the limit surface
of the 2-axis ankle is compared to that attained from a 1
cm2 patch on the rigid 3-axis stage (Fig. 9 black dots).
Maximum normal values of almost 17 kPa can be achieved
on the stage, while the foot can only sustain 2.2 kPa. While
the limit surface of the compliant ankle is enough to allow
Stickybot III to climb safely, it limits the size of the robot
due to scaling considerations.

Beyond considering the maximum normal force applied by


a robot while climbing, the angle from the x-axis to a line
through the point of maximum negative normal pressure is
useful, as it captures both the normal and shear components
of the pressure at this crucial point.4 This pull-off angle
is constant for a given gait, and where it crosses the limit
surface gives the absolute maximum weight per adhesive
area. To account for a safety factor, the maximum usable
shear and normal values will fall where the line is some
percent below the limit surface (Fig. 9, black dotted lines).
As the size of the payload scales up, the relative size
of the feet decreases. Smaller feet mean higher pressures,
which shift the shear pressures further to the right. This
decreases the safety factor until the maximum usable shear
is surpassed. The only way to regain the safety factor is
to create even larger feet (a losing proposition as scaling
continues), or shift the limit surface. The tendon-inspired
foot does the latter.
Using the tendon-inspired foot a robot could theoretically
scale significantly. With a gait similar to Stickybot III (thus
having maximum shear and adhesion requirements that fall
on the same pull-off line), a robot could have a 7.5 (10.5 kPa
versus 1.5 kPa) times larger normal pressure at the same 1.5
times safety factor (Fig. 9, F.S.). Since pressure is the ratio
of force to area, the larger robot could also have a 7.5 times
larger mass to surface area ratio. If the current length scale
of Stickybot III is , then the area is proportional to 2 ,
and the mass to 3 . If the ratio of mass to surface area is ,
then for the scaled the ratio for the scaled up robot would be
0 = 7.5. Assuming perfect scaling, the new robot would
have a mass proportional to 03 = (7.5)3 or approximately
422 times that of the current robot.
VI. S UMMARY AND F UTURE W ORK
The challenges of scaling small test patches of dry adhesives that perform well on a three-axis stage to patches
usable in the world of robotic and possibly human climbing
are substantial. For performance equivalent to the stage tests
of 1 cm2 patches, the foot that applies the adhesive to the
wall must ensure nearly all the fibers of the misaligned, large
patch contact the surface. Further, the foot must distribute the

C. Limit Surface: Tendon-inspired Ankle


The limit surface of the tendon-inspired ankle is shown in
Fig. 9 (blue xs) as well as a limit surface of the 1 cm2 patch
on the stage (black dots) and the force trace of Stickybot III.

4 It is typically the point of maximum normal pressure rather than


maximum shear force or some combination of sub-maximal normal and
shear pressures that dictates failure since the adhesive is much stronger in
shear than in adhesion).

5105

load evenly to every fiber, preventing any force concentrations or moments that might load one section of the pad more
than others.
Two bio-inspired foot designs are presented that meet the
above requirements. The second of these creates a limit
surface that matches that produced by a small patch on
a three-axis stage. While shown on Stickybot III using
Stanfords microwedges, this concept is not limited to this
platform or adhesive; any legged climbing device using
a directional adhesive could achieve performance from its
adhesives similar to that found on a stage.
Scaling the size of the operator is the next step for the foot.
As mentioned in Section V-D, the foot could theoretically
scale to a 338 kg robot, while retaining the same safety
factor and ratio of foot area to body mass. Of course, scaling
the feet to this size (from the current two 1.7 cm x 1.7 cm
patches per foot to two 13.6 cm x 13.6 cm patches) may
not be feasible due to the manufacturing tolerances that are
required. For the 13.6 cm x 13.6 cm patch to work, the
backing layer must be flat to within 35 m. However, if this
is not possible, initial experiments with tiling the pads have
proven promising. An 8x8 array of the current feet (or 3x3 of
a slightly larger version) with differential loading to evenly
distribute the forces among the feet could act like many feet
in parallel, all controlled from a single connection point.

[10] S. Kim, M. Spenko, S. Trujillo, B. Heyneman, D. Santos, and


M. R. Cutkosky, Smooth vertical surface climbing with directional
adhesion, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 6574,
2008.
[11] M. T. Northen, C. Greiner, E. Arzt, and K. L. Turner, A geckoinspired reversible adhesive, Advanced Materials, vol. 20, no. 20, pp.
39053909, 2008.
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VII. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This work is supported in part by DARPA-Zman and NSF
NIRT. E. W. Hawkes works with Government support under
and awarded by DoD, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate
(NDSEG) Fellowship, 32 CFR 168a.
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