If you knew a person that could scale a wall carrying an elephant or drag a blue whale with ease, they would be a real-life superhero, right? Well, some mechanical engineers at Stanford University have made tiny robots that have some Incredible Hulk-style strength of their own.
The robots are called µTug or MicroTugs, and the miniature innovations can pull of some impressive feats. For example, a 9-gram robot climbing up glass can carry 100 times its own weight, and a 12-gram robot can sustain something 2,000 times its own weight.
That blue whale analogy is pretty apt given the natural world inspiration behind the robot’s movements. Ants and geckos can climb as well as lift and drag things much bigger than them thanks to adhesives on their feet.
The adorable robots were designed with flexible rubber spikes with a strong grip at the bottom of their “feet,” and they also move the way that an inch worm does, with one part of the “body” exerting effort while the other stays still to conserve energy.
While the tiny tech is currently relegated to the lab (and the big screen this summer, sort of), the engineers are also looking ahead to how it could be applied on a larger scale, like on a building site, or in an emergency situation to help save the day.