We have all seen robots trudging around on all sorts of smooth and rough terrains. During the recent Christmas season Google even used it’s creepy-looking robots as Santa’s reindeers. The greatest thing about these robots is that they can be sent to all kinds of places where it might be difficult for the humans to go. They can also carry weight just the way we use animals like mules, oxen and horses.
Now we have robots that can even climb vertical walls. These robots are called VertiGo, and they have been built by Disney, yes, the same company that produces popular animation movies. Disney Research Zurich and ETH Zurich have designed a multimodal, wheel-driven robot that can drive itself over rugged terrains as well as vertical walls. The surface of the wall can be of any texture. The VertiGo robot doesn’t even use sticky pads or suction in order to stay on the vertical wall without falling off. Instead, the robot uses tiltable propellers that thrust the robot against the wall – it’s like as if your hand presses something against the wall to prevent it from falling. The propellers can move in all directions independent of each other. Here is the video of the Disney’s wall-climbing robot.
There has to be an appropriate ratio of the thrust and the weight of the robot. To minimize weight VertiGo uses a carbon fiber baseplate and its wheels and suspension system are made of 3-D printed parts and carbon rods. The two thrusters are mounted using a two-ringed “cardan suspension”, like a compass.
The developers aren’t exactly sure what would be the application of such robots but the experts in the field say that if such robots are used for carrying things they will be much safer compared to the drones because they will cling to walls and walk on the surface rather than zooming here and there in the air causing all sorts of dangers. It all depends on how powerful the propellers can be in order to keep the robots running on vertical surfaces along with the weight they are carrying.
Another great thing about VertiGo, unlike other wall-driving robots is that it doesn’t depend on the stickiness of the surface or the suction technology. Since its propellers keep it pressed against the wall, it can run on any surface, even up a tree. It goes without saying that it can be remotely controlled.