Disney's Research Lab Has Built a Wheeled Robot That Can Also Climb Walls
What do you get when you combine the mobile prowess of a RC car with two articulating propellers, similar to those found on aerial drones? Disney Research and a team over at ETH Zurich have developed a robot called VertiGo that is capable of climbing walls, seemingly throwing the laws of gravity out of the window.
In the past, engineers have built climbing robots that use vacuum technology to scale walls, with suction cups that mimic the anatomy of geckos and other animals. Instead of "sticking" to vertical surfaces, however, VertiGo uses the mechanical force known as thrust to get off of the ground and its wheels to maneuver around. "One pair of wheels is steerable, and each propeller has two degrees of freedom for adjusting the direction of thrust," the Disney Research team wrote [PDF] in a press release. "The choice of two propellers rather than one enables a floor-to-wall transition—thrust is applied both towards the wall using the rear propeller, and in an upward direction using the front propeller, resulting in a flip onto the wall."
To keep the weight of the robot down, the developers also explain that they used carbon fiber, as well as 3D-printed parts and carbon rods for some of the "complex three dimensional structures like the wheel suspension or the wheels themselves." There are eight individually-controlled actuators and a computer that allows the operator to control the propellers and drive the robot. The machine is not built to fly or hover like a drone, but as far as we know, there are zero drones that can do donuts on a playground wall.
For more information about the robot and the team responsible, click through to the VertiGo Project website.
All images via VertiGo