The new four-wheeled gravity-defying Disney robot called VertiGo is a small machine that is able to drive vertically on walls.
Mechanical engineering students at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) worked along with researchers at Disney Research Zurich to design and build the new wall-climbing device. Much like the front wheels of a car, VertiGo’s front wheels are also steerable. That means that the person controlling the robot has the possibility to change its direction.
The robot also comes with two propellers that can be controlled individually. They enable VertiGo to defy gravity and go up walls without falling to the ground, the researchers explained.
When the robot climbs a wall, its front propeller applies thrust (propulsive force) downward, thus pushing the robot upward. That enables it to go to a vertical position from a horizontal one. At the same time, the back propeller has to be tilted behind so that the propulsive force pushes the robot toward the wall, according to the researchers and mechanical engineering students who built VertiGo.
VertiGo’s wall-climbing abilities – which allow it to drive both on walls and on the floor – broadens the indoor and urban environments in which the robot can travel, the researchers noted in a statement on VertiGo’s functionality. Even when crossing over rough surfaces, such as brick walls, the robot manages to keep its footing and not fall to the ground.
Researchers used carbon fibre to build the body of the robot. However, the suspension system, steering wheel, and wheels (which are more complex parts) were built using carbon rods and 3D-printed parts. The electronic components of the robot, housed by the chassis or the body, include the computer which allows people to operate and control VertiGo.
To estimate the machine’s orientation in space, the computer receives data from infrared distance sensors. It also receives data from onboard sensors, such as gyroscopes and accelerometers.
The motors that power VertiGo’s wheels and propellers, are directed by the computer (which uses the aforementioned data) combined with input from the individual who controls the machine. Even if the individual controlling the robot is not familiar with how the propellers have to be tilted for the machine to stay on the wall, VertiGo is able to solve that on its own.
The researchers at Disney Research Zurich and the mechanical engineering students at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology also said that apart from being able to drive on vertical walls, the robot can also drive on the ceiling.
Image Source: 3ders