Questions for ‘New glue offers to turn any small walking robot into Spider-Man’

Is this a lizard on the ceiling? An insect? Spider-Man? No, it’s a climbing robot!

Lizong Dai/Xiamen Univ.

To accompany New glue offers to turn any small walking robot into Spider-Man


Before Reading:

1.  Spiders and insects can walk on walls and the ceiling. People, dogs and cats can’t. What’s the difference between arthropods and mammals when it comes to what surfaces they can travel upon?

2.  Imagine trying to walk up a wall. What might you do to make your hands and feet do this? What challenges might such a tactic involve?

During Reading:

1.  What are polymers? What type of polymer did Conghui Yuan and Lizong Dai put on the feet of their new robot?

2.  What was the inspiration for using that polymer?

3.  What is catecol? Why might something like it help make a wall-walking robot?

4.  How did the robot developers use pH to help their device’s feet become alternately sticky and unsticky, as needed?  

5.  Right now, what are the only type of surfaces the new robot can climb? Why is that?

6.  What environment do Yuan and Dai think might be best suited for the new robot to currently work in? Explain why.

After Reading:

1.  In what way does the Spider-Man analogy work for the new robot? In what ways does it not?

2. What superpower would you like to have? Do you think people could ever have that superpower? If no, why? And if yes, what type of science or engineering do you think it would take for people to attain that superpower? Explain your reasoning.