Robotics

VertiGo wheeled robot isn't stopped by walls

The four-wheeled, two-propellered VertiGo robot
The four-wheeled, two-propellered VertiGo robot
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The four-wheeled, two-propellered VertiGo robot
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The four-wheeled, two-propellered VertiGo robot
Because it doesn't rely on suction like some other climbing robots, the VertiGo doesn't require smooth, even wall surfaces with which to create a seal
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Because it doesn't rely on suction like some other climbing robots, the VertiGo doesn't require smooth, even wall surfaces with which to create a seal

Although they aren't as common as flying drones, we are seeing an increasing number of wall-climbing robots. What isn't so common, however, are devices like the VertiGo, which both drives on the ground and climbs up walls. Its climbing ability is particularly impressive, as it can even tackle walls with rough, uneven surfaces.

Created in a partnership between Disney Research Zurich and the ETH Zurich research institute, the VertiGo features a lightweight carbon fiber frame, two independently-tilting propellers, and four 3D-printed wheels (the front two of which are steerable).

In "ground mode" the rear prop is angled perpendicular to the ground, providing enough horizontal thrust to carry the machine across a variety of terrains. Upon reaching a wall, however, the front propeller kicks in and tilts upwards, pulling the front end of the robot up that wall. The rear prop continues to push the back end forward until it's also up against the wall.

Because it doesn't rely on suction like some other climbing robots, the VertiGo doesn't require smooth, even wall surfaces with which to create a seal
Because it doesn't rely on suction like some other climbing robots, the VertiGo doesn't require smooth, even wall surfaces with which to create a seal

From there, the VertiGo can roll vertically across the wall on its wheels, with a partial towards-the-wall tilt of the propellers pushing it in, so it doesn't simply fall off. Because it doesn't rely on suction like some other climbing robots, it doesn't require smooth, even wall surfaces with which to create a seal. This means it doesn't have a problem with walls made from brick and mortar, for example.

An onboard IMU (inertial measurement unit) and two infra-red distance sensors allow the robot to know whether it's oriented horizontally, vertically, or is about to transition between the two (i.e: when it's meeting up with the bottom of a wall), so its remotely-located human operator doesn't need to manually tilt the propellers.

The VertiGo can be seen in action, in the video below.

Sources: Disney Research, VertiGo Project via IEEE Spectrum

15 comments
Daishi
I have been advocating against legs on robots for years and today Disney Research released a working prototype of a wheeled robot that climbs walls the same day as the Marines scrapped the idea of using the Boston Dynamics LS3 Robotic Mule to carry equipment. Some vindication to end the year :)
Milton
This thing is AWESOME! love how it propels and brakes itself with a propeller. Seems like it's acceleration and braking is amazing
owlbeyou
The reason the wheels have a light lacework must be to not impede air circulation. Now if this Vertigo thing could take off and fly as well, it would be giant.
Donald Vitez
Very interesting device these guys have created. Especially ingenious is the 2 axis gimballed prop motors that tilt the props left to right to resist the tendency of the craft to fall from the wall when traversing the wall in a horizontal plane. In the video, you can see the craft start to slip as it is traversing the wall horizontally. The rubber belt they have added to the wheels serves to prevent slippage. I trust that they used slip rings to prevent wire breakage.
Techtwit
Wonder if it integrates remaining battery charge with height above ground level so that it can safely return to a horizontal surface before the batteries die?
HalSlater
1) Who made the rule that these videos need background music? They don't. 2) Why do the people who select the music have such poor taste in music? This one is one of the worst. 3) Why does the recording quality have to be so poor? Disney of all companies, too. Great looking toy!
Nik
OK, when you've watched it climb a wall once or twice, then what? Go back to watching paint dry?
the.other.will
Have to disagree, Daishi. Legs are still the only current solution for very rough terrain & for inside multi-story structures. Big Dog wasn't canceled because of its legs but because of its noisy IC powerplant. That's not to say anyone will be making military vehicles with legs anytime soon. They'll be a byproduct of the development of powered exoskeletons.
ezeflyer
Amazing. Good job guys!
cjpeters
I like innovative ideas like this - it will likely lead to other innovations. However, I can see one problem here... if the robot is on a vertical surface, and it runs out of power it is likely to fall and break.