The gecko-inspired gloves that let you climb walls like Spiderman

Being able to scale skyscrapers like everyone’s favourite web-slinging superhero would certainly make your morning commute more fun, but the secret to harnessing this power comes from geckos rather then our eight-legged friends.

Students at Stanford University have created special dry adhesive gloves that imitate the microscopic hairs found on a gecko’s feet, enabling humans to implement the same scientific sticking principle they do.

However, a gecko only weighs a few grams, so they had to come up with a clever solution in order to stick an adult human to the wall. This came in the form of special springs, which help to spread a human’s weight evenly across the gloves, providing sufficient adhesion to support up to 91 kilograms (200 pounds).

Humans don’t have the incredible upper-body strength of geckos, though, so a bit of extra help is required in the form of moveable rope ladders that help transfer some of the load to the feet and aid climbing.

Initial tests of the gloves have proven successful, and now the students are working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to see if similar technology can be applied to the robotic arms of spacecraft to catch space debris.

Spiderman gloves
Gecko gloves

Watch the gloves in action here:

Find more amazing technology in the latest issue of How It Works. It’s available from all good retailers, or you can order it online from the ImagineShop. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, make sure you subscribe today!

Plus, take a look at:

FeyeCon Intelliplant helps you regrow skin and bone like Wolverine 

How do spiders make webs?

How does sticky tape work?