Watch this tiny robot drag a 45-pound weight across the floor like it’s nothing

Think your bench max is impressive? Just wait ’till you see this video. A group of mechanical engineers from Stanford University has developed a set of tiny robots capable of lifting/pulling objects that are hundreds of times their own weight — including one that can move objects over 1700 times heavier than itself. That’s like you dragging around a blue whale.

Their secret? Super-sticky feet. Inspired by the foot of the gecko lizard, the robots’ footpads are covered in an array of tiny rubber spikes that adhere onto whatever surface the robot is climbing. When lateral pressure is applied to these spikes, they bend a little bit — increasing their surface area and causing them to become even stickier. When the bot picks up its foot, the spikes straighten out, permitting them to easily detach from the surface.

utugWith the help of these gecko pads, the robots then use an inchworm-like motion to tug objects forward. By scooting one foot forward while the other stays anchored in place, the bots avoid slipping or missing a step. The adhesive pads are actually so strong that the robots can move not only horizontally along flat surfaces, but also vertically up walls.

In the video, the researchers show off a number of different prototypes. The first one shown weighs in at about 9 grams, but can lift over a kilogram (2.2 pounds) as it climbs up a wall. A smaller version of this bot tips the scales at just 20 milligrams, but can carry 500 milligrams up a vertical surface.

The most impressive feat of strength comes from a ground bot nicknamed μTug. Despite weighing just 12 grams, this little guy can drag objects over 1700 times his own weight. The video shows him lugging around a mug full of coffee, a stack of different weights, and even a 45 pound (20.5 kg) plate.

Right now there aren’t many practical uses for the bots, but in the future the researchers reckon robots like these could be scaled up and used to haul heavy loads around factories and building sites, or perhaps even be used in emergency situations.

Emerging Tech

This sleek new exoskeleton makes walking easier, fits under your clothes

A new ankle exoskeleton that is designed to be worn under clothes can help people to walk without fatiguing — and without restricting natural motion or drawing attention to itself.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks for the best portable chargers.

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.
Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Petzl to Tikkid, here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

A hive of activity: Using honeybees to measure urban pollution

According to a new study from Vancouver, bees could help us understand urban pollution. Scientists have found an innovative way to measure the level of source of pollution in urban environments: by analyzing honey.
Emerging Tech

Spacewalk a success as astronauts upgrade batteries on the ISS

The International Space Station was treated to some new batteries on Friday, thanks to two NASA astronauts who took a spacewalk for nearly seven hours in order to complete the upgrades.
Emerging Tech

Asteroid Ryugu is porous, shaped like a spinning top, and is formed of rubble

The Japanese Space Agency has been exploring a distant asteroid named Ryugu with its probe, Hayabusa 2. Now the first results from study of the asteroid are in, with three new papers published.
Emerging Tech

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a super-speedy pulsar

A super-speedy pulsar has been spotted dashing across the sky, discovered using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the Very Large Array. The pulsar is traveling at a breathtaking 2.5 million miles an hour.
Emerging Tech

Chilean telescope uncovers one of the oldest star clusters in the galaxy

An ultra-high definition image captured by the Gemini South telescope in Chile has uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way. The cluster, called HP 1, could give clues to how our galaxy was formed billions of years ago.
Emerging Tech

Astronomers discover giant chimneys spewing energy from the center of the galaxy

Astronomers have discovered two exhaust channels which are funneling matter and energy away from the supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy and out towards the edges of the galaxy, dubbed galactic center chimneys.