Video of the Week: Robert Full and the Gecko

Biologist Robert Full studies the amazing gecko, with its supersticky feet and tenacious climbing skill. But high-speed footage reveals that the gecko’s tail harbors perhaps the most surprising talents of all.

UC Berkeley biologist Robert Full is fascinated with cockroach legs that allow them to scuttle at full speed across loose mesh and gecko feet that have billions of nano-bristles to run straight up walls. He’s using his research to design the perfect robotic “distributed foot,” adding spines, hairs and other parts to metal legs and creating versatile scampering machines.

He’s helped create robots, such as Spinybot, which can walk up sheer glass like a gecko — and he even helped Pixar create more realistic insect animations in the film A Bug’s Life.