Eco-friendly adhesive with the sticking power of fly feet revealed

28 Aug 2020

Electron micrograph of the fly foot where the adhesive spatula-shaped setae (light-blue structures) allow the fly to attach itself to objects. Image: Hokkaido University of Education

This week in future tech, researchers have found a way to give robots the ability to climb walls with ease, just like a fly.

While not giving robots the ability to fly, scientists in Japan have found a way to cheaply and easily produce an adhesive structure that can allow them to attach and detach themselves from walls and other surfaces multiple times. The stickiness of fly feet – caused by the adhesive spatula-shaped hairs (setae) found on the footpads of flies – was the inspiration behind the breakthrough published to Communications Biology.

While many types of manufactured products are reinforced with strong adhesives, their use hampers the sorting and decomposition of recycling processes. In testing, each of the spatula-shaped adhesive structures was capable of suspending a silicon wafer weighing 52.8g. If expanded, a a bundle of 756 fibres could support a person weighing 60kg.

Looking to the future, its developers see it potentially being integrated into the arms of industrial robots to better handle slippery objects or built into the legs of outdoor robots to allow them to climb vertical walls like insects.

Amazon adds 1,800 EVs to its delivery fleet

Amazon announced that it is adding more than 1,800 Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles (EVs) to its delivery fleet in Europe this year. More than 1,200 EVs in the order will comprise the auto manufacturer’s latest EV, the eSprinter. The remaining 600 vehicles will be the manufacturer’s midsize electric van, the eVito, to allow for smaller deliveries.

“We need continued innovation and partnership from auto manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz to decarbonise the transportation sector and tackle the climate crisis,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO.

“Amazon is adding 1,800 electric delivery vehicles from Mercedes-Benz as part of our journey to build the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world, and we will be moving fast to get these vans on the road this year.”

Amazon recently confirmed plans to build a new wind farm in the town of Ardderroo in Co Galway with a capacity of 115MW as part of its decarbonisation plans.

Tech could enable future, high-concentration drug injections

MIT researchers have published a study to Advanced Healthcare Materials describing a technology that could have major implications for drug delivery. When implemented, the low-cost technology could allow for high-concentration drugs be inserted directly into the body without being diluted.

Speaking with MIT News, researcher Kripa Varanasi said: “Where drug delivery and biologics are going, injectability is becoming a big bottleneck, preventing formulations that could treat diseases more easily.

“Drug makers need to focus on what they do best and formulate drugs, not be stuck by this problem of injectability.”

The technology works by surrounding the viscous medication with a lubricating fluid, allowing it to flow easier through the needle. In testing, only one-seventh of the force needed to inject it was necessary at its highest viscosity, opening the door for more than 100 drugs that couldn’t be injected before.

SEAT Mó rolls out EV mobility-sharing service in Barcelona

SEAT’s micromobility brand – SEAT Mó – has rolled out its first service in Barcelona with a total of 632 EVs available to the public. The service is available with a subscription model where the user holds on to the EV for weeks or months at a time, as well as a weekly or monthly subscription to its e-scooter.

“Consumer habits are evolving towards pay-per-use services,” said Lucas Casasnovas, head of SEAT Mó.

“The new subscription model makes it possible to have a vehicle permanently available to the user, but without incurring associated costs such as parking, insurance or maintenance.”

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic