Now some bright guys at Stanford have created a robot that can climb up smooth surfaces like a gecko. The control systems are impressive, but I find the “stickiness” mechanism the most interesting bit. They use “anisotropic dry adhesive materials and structures”. The “anisotropy” bit means a material that acts differently in different directions: that is, it’s sticky when moved one way, but not (or less) sticky when moved another way. This lets the robot stick, move, and re-stick.
Sure it’s got a ways to go before it reaches real gecko speeds, but it’s a very cool step.