Tiny Robot Proves Adept Wall Climber

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 5 (UPI) — A robot that can climb like a human rock climber may have many applications, its inventor says, but he also admits it’s a “really cool toy.”

Developed at the University of Utah, ROCR — as in “rocker” — uses two claws, a motor and a tail that swings like a clock’s pendulum to clamber up an 8-foot carpeted wall in a little more than 15 seconds, like a human rock climber or an ape swinging from branch to branch in trees, a university release said Wednesday.


“While this robot eventually can be used for inspection, maintenance and surveillance,” developer William Provancher, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, says, “probably the greatest short-term potential is as a teaching tool or as a really cool toy.”

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,” Provancher says.

But “there’s a lot more work to be done” before climbing robots are in common use, he says.

Compared to some large climbing robots that can weigh in at hundreds of pounds, ROCR is small and lightweight at 12.2 inches wide, 18 inches tall and weighing only 1.2 pounds.

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Categorized | Buildings, Engineering, Other
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