Zurich – There is a new tiny robot that can climb walls. Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) announced Tuesday that Disney Research Zurich alongside the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) developed VertiGo, a robot with two steerable wheels and two infrared distance sensors to calculate its orientation in space. The company showed the experimental product in a YouTube video.
A pair of tiltable propellers allows VertiGo to defy gravity and drive up walls, as they provide the robot thrust on the vertical surface. Moreover, uneven surfaces are not an obstacle for this Disney robot, since it is capable of driving through rough terrain like bricks and indentations on a wall, as well as through raised platforms such as paintings. Regardless of the terrain, VertiGo can move “quickly and with agility.”
“Thrust is applied both towards the wall using the rear propeller, and in an upward direction using the front propeller, resulting in a flip onto the wall,” as explained in a press release.
When it is not in the business of climbing walls, the robot can go in several different directions and combinations. VertiGo is extremely light and is not able to carry anything with it. The chassis are made of carbon fiber and most parts of the robot are 3D printed, which is why they are strong but still light.
It sounds like a great gift for the next holidays but it remains unclear whether Disney will release VertiGo for the public. It could actually become a successful product not only as a fun toy, but also as a rescue robot. When flat ground and open spaces are in short supply, VertiGo could be practical to find people that would go undetected without such a technology.
The VertiGo project is part of ETH’s Autonomous Systems Lab, which has the mission of creating robots and intelligent systems capable of operating by themselves in a variety of complex environments. Other lab projects include robots for service and inspection, as well as walking, swimming and running robots.