The European Space Agency has found that climbing robots inspired by gecko lizards have the potential to change the way humans function in space.
These potential "hull-crawling automatons" could be used to maintain and repair the exterior of spacecraft, using gecko-like "feet" to stay put, even in extreme temperatures and in the vacuum of space. The so-called Abigaille crawling robots worked better in ESA tests than those that used wheels to move; with six legs, each enjoying 4 degrees of motion, the gecko-like robots are much more dexterous than wheeled models.
The implications for space travel are exciting. With the robots patrolling the exterior of a ship, astronauts could avoid dangerous and time-consuming space walks for spacecraft upkeep. Abigaille robots could help to keep spacecraft, and even satellites, in working condition for longer. The robots could even be useful on Earth, cleaning and maintaining skyscrapers, large aircraft and other difficult-to-maintain structures.
We can't wait to see what other nature-inspired robots emerge in the coming years. In the meantime, check out the gecko robots in the video above.