VertiGo - The Robot That Races on Walls
Tom Spendlove posted on December 30, 2015 |

Mechanical and electrical engineering students from ETH Zurich in partnership with Disney Research, Zurich released a video yesterday of VertiGo, a robot that drives on flat surfaces and up walls.

VertiGo started as a concept of four small wheels attached with rods and springs to a controller and a four propeller system. This revision is a more traditional chassis with four rolling wheels and movement coming solely from the two rotating propellers. The benefit that this system has over other wall climbing robots is the propellers pushing the bot against the wall and moving it forward at the same time.

This is mostly a hype video as VertiGo pulls in more attention, there's a frustrating lack of technical information in the video or the team's website. The public unveiling of VertiGo was back in May at the school's focus rollout event. This project is a part of the school's Autonomous Systems Lab, where the mission is "to create robots and intelligent systems that are able to autonomously operate in complex and diverse environments."








Drones are only one facet of the lab's projects, which include walking and running robots, service robots, swimming robots, and inspection robots. My favorite is LizhbETH, the Limonological Measurement Robot. LizhbETH tests the water in Lake Zurich for plantothrix rubescens. The system uses temperature, pH, light, oxygen, algae and nutrient sensors to locate the bacteria and measure intensity. The project is a joint venture between ETH Zurich and the Limnological Station at the University of Zurich.

VertiGo is great for robotics not just because of its technical achievements but also because of the sense of wonder and achievement it creates. The guts of the work here seems to have been done in the controller and finding the right balance between being a low weight vehicle and making sure that the propellers met the vehicle's unique requirements. Because VertiGo is a Swiss robot it does not have to comply with the FAA's new drone registration rules


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