Mett Nippy Four-wheeled robot that drives up walls
A four-wheeled robot can transition from the ground to vertical surfaces by coordinating a pair of propellers
Most of us struggle to climb even small hills. But this four-wheeled robot can move seamlessly from navigating the ground to climbing a vertical surface thanks to propeller power.
The eminently mobile critter was developed by Paul Beardsley from Disney Research in Zurich and his colleagues at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). Their goal was to extend the capabilities of wheeled robots, which tend to be stumped by walls.
This prototype, which is about 60 centimetres long, is equipped with two propellers that provide thrust to allow it to make the transition from navigating the ground to driving up a wall. The rear rotor pushes the robot onto the wall while the front one gives it a pull upwards. “It was a shot in the dark but it works,” says Beardsley.
A carbon fibre baseplate and 3D-printed parts help keep the robot’s weight down to 2 kilograms. Anything heavier would have trouble flipping from ground to wall.
The robot’s lithium polymer battery lasts just 10 minutes, but it’s the same for ubiquitous flying quadrotors, so Beardsley is confident that technology will soon be developed that can also be applied to his robot.
The success of the propeller system has inspired him to tackle transitions from wall to ceiling and between two interior walls. “Apart from entertainment, these abilities can be very useful for industrial inspection robots,” says Beardsley.