2016.02.06 | 03:16:00


No Spiderman? - A recent article in PNAS on the scaling of adhesives for insects and geckos suggests that if we extrapolate to humans, climbing is not feasible. This point was picked up in the press, with articles like Science: No, you can't be Spider-Man (Engadget). Stephen Colbert picked it up for a splendid riff on his show: Science Has Ruined Spider-Man.
But wait... didn't we show that it is entirely possible to climb walls with gecko-inspired adhesives if you distribute the forces very carefully (RS Interface Nov2014)? So Elliot Hawkes has prepared a rebuttal, (28Jan2016).

Mark demonstrating grasping without squeezing

28 Oct 2015: Mark, Elliot, and Dave present work on grasping without squeezing, human climbing, and microrobots at swissnex Biorobots:Dissected

12 Oct 2015: Come to Dave Christensen's defense tomorrow morning!

1 Oct 2015: Congratulations to Alice Wu, Arul, Hao, John, Elliot & Dave for the IROS 2015 Best Paper Award for their paper on "Tactile Sensing for Gecko-Inspired Adhesion." BDML attendees reported a lively conference, with 969 papers (of 2134 submitted) and many good workshops, etc.

30 Sept: Lab Meeting time will move to 12:30 starting this Friday.

Recent WebChanges

05August2015: Always glad to have the DaVinci Camp stop by!

ICRA Best Student Paper 2015

26June2015: BDML kick-off-the-summer retreat

22June2015: Welcome to the new SURIs for summer 2015: KatieHahm, IsabelGueble, IanLewis, ChrisKimes,ChristinaGibbs

18June2015: Nice story in IEEE Spectrum on the evolution of spiny grippers: Spinybot -->RiSE-->JPL-->NASA (nothing about the branch of the family tree that went to Zman however ;-)

30May2015: Congratulations to Elliot, Dave, Amy and Hao on winning the 2015 IEEE ICRA Best Student Paper award for "Grasping without Squeezing: Shear Adhesion Gripper with Fibrillar Thin Film."

27May2015: BDML and Bioinspiration at the Royal Society celebration of 350 years of scientific publishing

  • paper: Climbing with Adhesion, from Bio-Inspiration to Bio-Understanding, Royal Society Interface Focus, May 2015

15May2015: NYT -- controllable adhesion applications: perching, tugging, gripping.

27April2015: MicroTugs get some press as ICRA2015 approaches:

13March2015: Getting ready for TED in Vancouver: 1500 geckos with directional, controllable adhesive


21Nov2014: Popular press has picked up on the paper led by Elliot on Human climbing with efficiently scaled gecko-inspired dry adhesives
A few examples: BBC, The Guardian (UK), Popular Mechanics, Newsweek, io9, Huffington Post, New York Times, Stanford News,
And a nice video vignette on Science Take from the New York Times: Harnessing Gecko Power
-- more details on the BDML Climb page

26Sept2014: Schedules for the Stanford Robotics Seminar, BDML lab meetings, etc. are taking shape: LabMeetingSchedule

22Sept2014: Back from Crown Lake expedition and ready to start the new year!

25July2014: The DaVinci Camp Summer Institute stopped by this morning to learn about bio-inspired robots and play with some gecko-inspired adhesives.

27June2014: Lab meeting at Sam McDonald Park to kick off the summer among the flora and fauna.

8June2014: An Enjoyable and successful ICRA2014 in Hong Kong! And congratulations to Matt Estrada for being a best paper finalist. (See Publications page for the several ICRA papers.)

19 Sept:''' Welcome to new and returning students! We are setting up the Calendar of fall group meetings and updating various pages.

  • We have a new RA position on variable-stiffness actuators. This is suitable for an incoming MS or co-term student. It is funded for 2 quarters at present. Possibly more in the future.
  • LabMeetingSchedule updated for Fall 2013
  • NewProjectsFall2013 -- some new, moderately scoped projects that new graduate students might like to get involved in (e.g. research rotation).
  • Also looking for one more ME112 TA - position is for Winter 2014, strong preference for ME112 alumni. Email to Cutkosky, subject: ME112 TA

2 Aug: Back on campus. Lots of efforts underway on perching, haptics, sensing, gliding, climbing...

May 11: Slightly garbled mention of the ICRA 2013 jump gliding paper in New Scientist.

May 2: Videos of quadrotor perching on ceilings and other surfaces picked up by Popular Science for a short article.

April 3: Stanford Robotics Seminar starts this Friday! Speakers from BDML include Paul Karplus and Jung Hwa Bae on the RoboSimian Hand and Force-Sensing Needle projects.

Feb 11: Mark in Pisa+Pontedera & Skyping daily with various groups. ICRA13 papers by Dan Aukes et al. and Alexis Lussier-Desbiens et al. ready for upload.

Jan 2013: Contrats to Dan Aukes, Barrett Heyneman and Samson Phan on their defenses.

Dec 14: Congratulations to Barrett Heyneman on his Best Biomimetics Paper award at RoBio 2012.

Sept 3: Robots drilling for oil (Bloomberg News) describes the Robotic Drilling Systems project, including collaborations with NASA and Stanford BDML.

Discovery TV filming, June 2012

Aug 23: Congrats to Seokchang on his defense on a steerable active needle for MRI interventions.

Aug 1: Check out BDML2012EndOfSummer -- details being finalized.

June 14: Lab summer kickoff

June 8: Congrats to Sanjay on his defense (dynamically tunable EAP suspensions)

June 6: Discovery Channel filming StickybotIII today.

June 4: Gait retraining research featured on NSF's Science Nation

June 1: Congrats to Alexis on his defense (perching UAVs)

April 25: Congrats to Pete on his defense (gait retraining)

Friday April 13: Sean Humbert will talk at 1pm in Peterson 126 on Principles of of Sensorimotor Control at Insect Scales

27Feb12: Joint BDML and Charm lab haptics meeting scheduled.

01Feb12: New ICRA 2012 papers forthcoming (more details soon):

  • Under-actuated hands with selectively lockable joints (Dan Aukes et al.)
  • Optically heated bendable biopsy needle for MRI interventions (Seokchang Ryu et al.)
  • Variable stiffness EAP suspension (Sanjay Dastoor et al.)
  • Region of attraction estimation for perching airplanes (Alexis Lussier-Desbiens et al.)

31Jan12: Reception honoring Mark Cutkosky as newest Fletcher Jones Professor in Engineering

Fletcher Jones Reception for Mark Cutkosky

Jan 2012: Welcome to Prof. Will Provancher who is visiting on sabbatical from U. Utah and sharing time in Allison Okamura's CHARM lab and here.

25Oct11: Stickybot on Sports Illustrated? -- StickybotIII used as a sort of icon for Stanford's prowess in the PAC10.

21Oct11: RiSE is risen! QuadraRiSE, which was originally designed to climb with claws or microspines, is now able to climb with directional adhesives.

04Oct11: Links back to the old pages (from TWiki) are now mostly working. The path is:


Note that these are now static pages and the various TWiki functions won't work.


  • Visitors from Seabed Rig = ECHORD
  • R. Wood from Harvard visiting and speaking: Bldg. 200, Room205, ~16:15

01Oct11: IROS 2011 Tours! 10:00-14:30 in the labs

22Aug11: Site back up on temporary host while rebuilding the old one.

10Jul11: New website is ready to go. We need members to populate it. You can use Main.PerchingHome as a template.

09Jul11: We have 6/6 papers at IROS 2011 (see Publications). Expect a busy late September with conference activities and visitors at the start of Fall quarter!