Washington: A first-of-its-kind robot has been designed that can climb a carpeted, 8-foot wall in just over 15 seconds.
A small robot named ROCR (``rocker``) can move like human rock climbers or apes swinging through trees.
"While this robot eventually can be used for inspection, maintenance and surveillance, probably the greatest short-term potential is as a teaching tool or as a really cool toy," said robot developer William Provancher.
Provancher and his colleagues wrote that most climbing robots "are intended for maintenance or inspection in environments such as the exteriors of buildings, bridges or dams, storage tanks, nuclear facilities or reconnaissance within buildings."
"While prior climbing robots have focused on issues such as speed, adhering to the wall, and deciding how and where to move, ROCR is the first to focus on climbing efficiently," said Provancher.
The motor that drives the robot’s tail and a curved, girder-like stabilizer bar attach to the robot’s upper body. The upper body also has two small, steel, hook-like claws to sink into a carpeted wall as the robot climbs. Without the stabilizer, ROCR`s claws tended to move away from the wall as it climbed and it fell.
"ROCR alternatively grips the wall with one hand at a time and swings its tail, causing a center of gravity shift that raises its free hand, which then grips the climbing surface," the study said.
"The hands swap gripping duties and ROCR swings its tail in the opposite direction," it added.
"It mimics a gibbon swinging through the trees and a grandfather clock’s pendulum, both of which are extremely efficient," said Provancher.
The study said: "The core innovations of ROCR - its energy-efficient climbing strategy and simple mechanical design - arise from observing mass shifting in human climbers and brachiative [swinging] motion in animals."
The findings were published in Transactions on Mechatronics, a journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and American Society of Mechanical Engineers.