Disney has created a robot which has the ability to scale up walls and make 90 degree flips. They have named the robot VertiGo and it can be controlled by a remote. The robot is the final result of a collaboration between Disney Research Zurich and the Swiss Federation Institute of Technology (ETH).
The robot has a battle-bot like appearance with four wheels and a pair of tilt-able propellers fitted on top of the chassis of the robot car. Among the two pair of wheels, one pair can be controlled by the user using the remote control. The propellers are movable too, having a capability to turn in different directions. The propellers play an important role in helping the bot-car climb up walls.
The two propellers are used to build up a forward momentum which enables it to fling itself against the surface of a wall. The bot uses two forces from two different directions to make the wall-climb.
The front propeller helps it to move up while the rear propeller provides the bot with a force towards the wall which ultimately enables it to climb the wall. Being movable, the positions of the propellers can be adjusted by the user as per requirements using the remote, which gives him or her a better control over the bot-car.
Making the robot capable of climbing walls was not an easy task for its developers. The major problem that the developers faced in this arduous task was maximizing the ratio between thrust output and the weight of the car.
A Disney spokesperson stated that carbon fiber came to their aid in solving the problem. Carbon fiber is an extremely light yet very strong material that often finds its applications in the car manufacturing company. This material was used for the baseplate of the car which reduced the overall weight of the car.
The wheel suspensions and the wheels have been created using 3D printed parts along with carbon-rods. All the electronic parts and the wires on the robot-car are placed on the central baseplate. The thruster modules are mounted at two specific points on the baseplate itself.
A two-ringed Cardan Suspension has been used for the purpose of mounting of the thrusters. Some miniature server-motors placed strategically on the car allows for the free and independent movement of the inner and the outer rings.
The downward force that the propellers create provides the necessary force required by the car to move on ground, climb walls and even move around on the ceiling. The propellers and the wheels of the car enable it to move on floor and even on walls with considerable amount of speed and agility.
Each of the two propellers has two degrees of freedom which enables the user to adjust and change the direction of the thrust easily. Pointing the propellers back will make the car move in a forward direction while pointing them towards the front will make it move in a backward direction.
The developers have created VertiGo as a prototype and it will not be available to the common public as of yet. Dr. Paul Beardsley, a member of Disney Research Zurich recently stated in an interview with Mashable that the robot can be used for various entertainment related purposes like providing visual effects. It could also be used for inspection in industrial areas due to its free movement capability.
According to a popular website, apparently Disney is working on a line of brand new robots which might be able to successfully take the place of the Sphero BB-8, which is controlled by a smartphone.