Scientists from Stanford have developed a series of super-small, super strong robots—including this one, that can haul up to 52 pounds, despite weighing less than half an ounce. That’s like you pulling a blue whale.

New Scientist reports that the Stanford lab has been busy building a series of super-strong robots, all of which are based around adhesive feet inspired by geckos. It describes how it works:

The adhesives are covered in minute rubber spikes that grip firmly onto the wall as the robot climbs. When pressure is applied, the spikes bend, increasing their surface area and thus their stickiness. When the robot picks its foot back up, the spikes straighten out again and detach easily.


The results include a 9-gram robot that cal pull over 2 pounds as it climbs walls and a tiny 20 milligram bot—put together under a microscope—that can carry 500 milligrams. The researchers reckon robots like these could be scaled up and used in the future to haul heavy loads around factories and building site. [New Scientist]