Disney has created a robot that can drive up walls

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Walls are no match for Disney’s mobile rolling robot, the VertiGo. So, how does this bot defy gravity?

It wasn’t easy. A key problem Disney’s ETH Zurich researchers ran into was maximizing the ratio between thrust output and vehicle weight. The team was able to solve this problem by using carbon fiber — a super light and super strong material — and 3D printed parts. These materials combined with two tiltable propellers helped the VertiGo robot “stick” to walls by thrusting it against a surface. The downward force generated from these propellers is enough to support the vehicle driving on a vertical wall and “theoretically even on the ceiling,” the researchers say.

The two steerable propellers allow the VertiGo transition from wall to floor and floor to wall, as you can see in the video below. One propeller applies force toward the wall, while the other forces the vehicle in an upward direction.

The propellers provide enough thrust to ensure the robot will “stick” to walls even if they have indentations and imperfections. So, what exactly is the purpose of this amazing, wall-crawling robot?

Disney Research scientist Paul Beardsley told IEEE Spectrum that he wasn’t at liberty to discuss why the company was interested in researching and developing the VertiGo. “But just speaking in general, one can imagine that robots with lighting effects could be useful for entertainment effects or for wall games,” he told them.

Earlier this month Disney Research announced the creation of a real-time performance 3D capture system. Disney Research has facilities across the world with the purpose of pursuing new technologies “to advance the company’s broad media and entertainment efforts.”

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